Computer screen with powerpoint presentation from the Colorado Health Literacy conference

A group of Manual High School students and their former teacher Whitney Weathers present at the annual Health Literacy Coalition conference held online Sept. 24.

Every year during school registration, parents have to fill out forms for their children. At Denver Public Schools, one of these forms is so students can receive medical care at school-based health centers run by Denver Health.

A group of students at Manual High School realized that this consent form was full of problems. It was written at college reading level, filled with medical or legal jargon and written in tiny font.

And they decided to do something about it.

The students took on a year-long project to evaluate and improve the form during a technical writing class taught by former Manual assistant principal Whitney Weathers. She said she had the idea to revise the form after she encountered a similar, confusing form.

“I had to fill out a form for my kids to get medical care and I had no idea what I was signing,” Weathers said.

The students  examined the form’s visual appeal, vocabulary, and sentence length. Based on the students efforts, Denver Health is adopting a new form with increased font sizes, improved layout and simpler language.

The students shared their story at the Colorado Health Literacy Coalition’s virtual conference on Sept. 24. The readability of health documents, such as consent forms, is a social justice issue. Historically, people in marginalized groups have been taken advantage of if forms are too vague, confusing, or written at an advanced reading level. It is important for health equity for people to know what they are signing off to.

Read a Colorado Public Radio Story here about the students’ amazing work!

Click here for more on the Colorado Health Literacy Coalition and to watch the recordings from the annual conference.