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Understanding of Written Communication

Indicator Phrasing

% of the target population that can read the written language used to communicate with them
See indicator in other languages

Indicator Phrasing

English: % of the target population that can read the written language used to communicate with them

French: % de la population cible qui peut lire la langue écrite utilisée pour communiquer avec elle

Portuguese: % da população-alvo que consegue ler a língua escrita utilizada para comunicar com eles

Czech: % cílové populace, která umí číst v jazyce, v němž se s nimi komunikuje

What is its purpose?

The process indicator measures the proportion of the target group members capable of reading in the language that is used to communicate with them (e.g. in leaflets, announcements, instructions, etc.). Such data can help aid agencies in improving people's access to information.

How to Collect and Analyse the Required Data

Calculate the indicator's value by using the following methodology:


1) Select three short examples of written communication materials that are intended for the target group members, such as a leaflet, poster, printed instructions or a short letter. Ensure that each piece of material is approximately 2-4 sentences long and is free of any unnecessary jargon and technical terms. If several different languages are commonly used for written communication, select three additional written samples for each language.



2) Include in any quantitative survey that is conducted among a representative sample of the target group members (both female and male), a section testing their understanding of the written text. The recommended survey questions include:

Q1: Are you able to read text in [specify the tested language]?

A1: yes / no / with difficulties


(ask the following question only if the previous answer is YES or WITH DIFFICULTIES)


Q2: Can you please tell me what these materials are informing you about? [show the three selected materials; keep probing: What else are the materials saying? What else is written on them?]

A2: _

1) the respondent fully understands the content of at least two of the three materials

2) the respondent DOES NOT understand the content of at least two of the three materials



3) If there are several languages commonly used for written communication with the target population, repeat steps 1 and 2 for the remaining languages.



4) To calculate the indicator’s value, divide the number of people who understood at least two of the written materials by the total number of respondents. Multiply the result by 100 to convert it to a percentage.

Disaggregate by

Disaggregate the data by gender, age groups, ethnicity and other vulnerability factors. If you test more languages, report separately on the percentage of the target population who understand a given language.

Important Comments

1) If the Education Cluster, UNICEF, or Ministry of Education has a standardized methodology for testing basic reading skills in the given language, consider using it.

This guidance was prepared by People in Need and Translators without Borders ©

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