Brownfields: A case study in partnering with residents to develop an easy-to-read print guide

C. Zarcadoolas, E. Timm, L. Bibeault

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


At least three cultural circumstances have converged to make environmental health information critical, yet highly inaccessible, to many Americans: 1) the declining literacy levels of almost half the population, 2) the growing cultural diversity of the population, and 3) the complexity of environmental health information and science. This paper presents a case study of how literacy experts and environmental scientists partnered with a panel of inner-city residents to produce a community guide about brownfields, a process the authors refer to as "cooperative composing." The goal was to create low-barrier material (fifth-through-eighth-grade reading level) that would inform people about brownfields issues so that they can meaningfully insert themselves into the process of planning for brownfields reuse and redevelopment. The authors structured an ongoing process with a panel of residents to learn with them just what types of information they wanted and what language level and graphics were appropriate. A primary motivator of this study was the belief that informed, activated residents will bring about greater equity and collaboration in environmental planning for brownfields.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-20
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Environmental Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


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