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Beyond Plain Language: Creating Materials for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and Literacy Limitations

Tuesday, July 18, 2023 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM (EDT)


Although many public health organizations attempt to ensure that their information, messages, and materials are understandable and actionable, people with an intellectual or developmental disability, as well as others with literacy limitations, may still have difficulty understanding public health messages meant for the public. In close collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, RTI International and CommunicateHealth have developed a Product Development Tool to guide development of products (e.g., website information, print materials, videos) for people with intellectual disabilities and extreme low literacy (IDD/ELL).

In this two-and-a-half-hour session, learn why developing specific products for this audience during public health emergencies is essential and how to do it. This workshop will be hands-on, so come ready to storyboard and create!

We will wrap up with lessons learned about how to engage this audience in material testing, as well as implications for broader, low-literacy audiences.

Learning Objectives

  • Remember the unique communication needs of people with an intellectual or developmental disability (IDD), as well as others with literacy limitations
  • Understand CDC's Tool for creating products for this audience, including the evidence base supporting it
  • Apply learnings to developing a material designed for adults with IDD, including content development and design


  • Read the Product Development Tool User Guide prior to the workshop (a 508-compliant PDF will be emailed to workshop registrants in advance)


Linda Squiers, PhD

Sr. Health Communication Scientist
RTI International

Molly Lynch, MPH

Project Director
RTI International

Sidney Holt, PhD

Associate Project Director
RTI International

Kathleen Walker

Sr. Content Strategist