February 21, 2012
A new, easy-to-read website on drug abuse designed for adults with a low reading literacy level (eighth grade or below) was launched today by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health. The site, which provides plain language information on neuroscience, drug abuse prevention and treatment, is also a resource for adult literacy educators. It has a simple design with a large default text size, motion graphic videos and other features that make it easy to read and use.
“Drug abuse and addiction affects people of all reading levels, yet there are no websites with drug abuse information created specifically for adults with limited literacy,” said NIDA Director Dr. Nora D. Volkow. “We hope this new site will inform a large segment of our population who may not have otherwise received potentially life-saving information.”
The website’s emphasis on plain language supports the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s commitment to clear government communication that the public can understand and use. The site goes beyond plain language by using a website design and features that are easy to use, including animated videos that explain the science of addiction and how drugs affect the brain.
The website will use the ReadSpeaker text-to-speech tool that provides audio versions of each page without the need to download any software. The embedded highlighting tool enables website visitors to see synchronized highlighting of the text that is currently being read.
Before creating the site, NIDA interviewed adults who were seeking to improve their literacy skills to learn their challenges and preferences in using websites. NIDA also worked with groups that provide services to adult learners through nonprofit organizations, libraries, and in healthcare clinics. In addition, NIDA conducted website usability testing at nonprofit organizations that serve adults seeking to improve their reading and/or earn a GED.