21: New Guide to Inclusive Communications

Booker Daniels, with the CDC’s Division of Public Affairs, details a new online resource to help public health professionals improve their inclusive communication skills; Kerry Wyss, ASTHO’s Director of Environmental Health, shares information...

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Booker Daniels, with the CDC’s Division of Public Affairs, details a new online resource to help public health professionals improve their inclusive communication skills; Kerry Wyss, ASTHO’s Director of Environmental Health, shares information about several guides created to help states and territories communicate with residential building owners and operators, and homeowners, about how to prevent Legionnaires’ Disease in their drinking water; we highlight three ASTHO job opportunities; and provide a final reminder about the 9/11 preparedness event planned for Thursday, September 9th.

CDC Webpage: Health equity guiding principles for inclusive communication

ASTHO Report: Water safety

ASTHO Report: Digging deeper into Legionnaires’ disease guidance needs for state and territorial health agencies

ASTHO: Job opportunities

Event: Two decades after 9/11


ASTHO logo



This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Wednesday, September 8th, 2021. I'm Robert Johnson.

Here's today's news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.


Communication is a critical part of every public health effort. As we have seen during the pandemic response, messages can have a huge impact on public health outcomes. But there's another aspect of communication that's equally important—it has to do with using language that promotes equity.

The CDC has a new resource on its website to help public health professionals improve their inclusive communication skills.

Booker Daniels is in the Division of Public Affairs, working in the director's office. He talks about the CDC's new resource in today's morning conversation.

What's the goal of this online resource?


CDC's health equity guiding principles for inclusive communication resource is really designed to emphasize the importance of addressing people inclusively, accurately, and respectfully. These principles are intended to help public health professionals—particularly the communicators within and outside of CDC—ensure that communication products, strategies, and messages really speak to and adapt to the specific cultural, linguistic, and environmental factors that really inform the way we communicate and express ourselves.

This is an evolving resource, and it's a product, it's a collaboration with partners and constituents within CDC, and we're really excited to say that more than 40 external partners and organizations worked on this as well.

And I really want to lay out the fact that this is the goal of this document is really to serve as a living resource that's going to evolve and change as norms change—the way we speak and communicate evolve over time.

What's unique about this resource is that it's not a style guide. We're not giving folks a forced prop set of terms that they can use. Really, it's intended to give individuals and audiences the resources they need to consider a broader suite of more accurate, inclusive, and accessible language options.


Let's talk about that.

What kind of information and guidance will people find when they visit this part of the CDC website?


You're going to find a variety of different tabs and a variety of different sections.

And the things that I really want to call out include some of the key principles related to inclusive and accurate and accessible language—you'll see that prominently mentioned on our homepage. You'll see a list of preferred terms for select populations.

And we really want to focus on and emphasize the fact that these terms aren't fixed. There isn't always agreement on those terms; but by including those terms, again, we provide audiences and partners with information that they can choose from.

There are other resources and references that people can explore and navigate, again, to provide each of us with a lens through which we can view the way we communicate and convey ideas to and with one another.


It sounds like this resource really is for anyone in public health.


That's absolutely correct, Robert.

It really is a power tool, if you will, for all audiences and really everyone in the public health space. It was created certainly with the intent of benefiting communicators; but everyone in public health, in most fashions, communicate in some form or fashion. Whether you're an epidemiologist, you work in the policy space, whether you're doing field work—there really is a rich opportunity to help all of us consider and, again, apply that lens so that we can communicate more excessively and inclusively.



Also this morning, clean drinking water is critical to the health and safety of communities. Legionnaires' Disease is among those threats to water quality. Yet talking to residential building managers and homeowners about the problem can be difficult.

ASTHO has prepared guidance for states and territories ready to download and use right now.

Kerry Wyss is ASTHO's director of environmental health.


We would love for states to use this document and pull some of the key messages for whichever audience is their targeting in their outreach, especially building managers and homeowners. The document provides talking points they can use in their communication efforts.

One example is the talking points on building a water management program. This can be useful when talking to building managers, because often this conversation doesn't happen unless the health agency's responding to a previous outbreak. And so, by having some of these conversations up front prior to an incident, we can help the facility to increase the preventive measures to reduce the chances of an issue down the road.

If the health agency is creating materials for homeowners, we have a short and sweet "What do homeowners need to know?" section that can be lifted and cut and paste into their communications resources.


We will have links to three resources for you in today's show notes.


It's Wednesday morning, and that means it's time for the first installment of a regular feature called Workplace Wednesday, a quick spotlight on job openings at ASTHO.

Today, qualified individuals are encouraged to apply for a position as vice president of finance or to become a director of diversity, equity, and inclusion. There's also a position open for a senior analyst on the leadership development team.

Get more information about these and other job opportunities using the link in the show notes.


Finally, you still have time to register for ASTHO's discussion about preparedness lessons two decades after 9/11. We discussed the event on yesterday's newscast. You can listen to that conversation with ASTHO's Lisa Peterson for more details.

The event, though, is tomorrow afternoon—it's online and it's free.


Their registration link is in the show notes along with links to everything mentioned in today's report.


Also remember to follow us on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, or listen on Alexa or Google assistant.

And if you have a minute, please take time to leave us a rating and a review.


Join us tomorrow morning for more ASTHO news and information.

I'm Robert Johnson. You're listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition



Kerry Wyss

Director, Environmental Health, ASTHO

Booker Daniels MPH

Public Health Communicator, CDC