222028 Deaf Health Talks: A grassroots community driven health educational program

Monday, November 8, 2010

Michael M. McKee, MD, MPH , Department of Family Medicine, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
Deaf people who use American Sign Language (ASL) as their primary means of communication comprise a linguistic minority with limited access to health information and education programs. Health information written in English is not accessible to many ASL users for whom English is a second language that is poorly understood.

Deaf ASL users at the Rochester Recreational Club for the Deaf requested health information delivered in ASL. In response, the Deaf Health Community Committee (DHCC) in Rochester NY held monthly health educational talks. Goals of the program were to provide accessible health information and stimulate interest among deaf individuals in becoming health educators. A family physician fluent in ASL led a team of deaf community members in designing “Deaf Health Talks.” Topics for the following month's talks were chosen by the audience at the prior talk. Talks included “Swine Flu and Common Infections,” “Sleeping Disorders,” and “Diabetes.”

The number of participants at these talks ranged from 25-41 individuals. The talks were designed to be interactive to allow participants to ask questions and share successful strategies on how to put new knowledge into routine actions. The comparison of pre- post-test survey knowledge scores improved by 6.8%-78% depending on the topic presented. In addition, two DHCC members are interested in pursuing a career in health education or medicine. Social justice requires us to address the health education and information needs in underserved communities. Interactive talks in ASL provide the best way to convey accessible health information to the deaf community.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Diversity and culture
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
1. Define key differences among deaf American Sign Language users compared to other English speaking populations in regards to health educational programs. 2. Discuss strategies that were implemented to improve the success of a health educational program. 3. Describe responses from the audience and the health education project members.

Keywords: Deaf, Education

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a deaf family medicine physician who works closely in providing medical care and promoting health education to deaf American Sign Language users. This is a group that has not been well targetted with other public health outreaches.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.