Magazine article The Nation's Health

Research: Making Health Messages Accessible to the Hearing Impaired

Magazine article The Nation's Health

Research: Making Health Messages Accessible to the Hearing Impaired

Article excerpt

FOR MANY PEOPLE seeking health information, accessing it can be as easy as watching a YouTube video. But for deaf or hearing impaired people, there are barriers in trying to access that same information, which can ultimately lead to poorer health outcomes.

Public health researchers at APHA's 2016 Annual Meeting and Expo who are working to break down those barriers shared their findings at a Nov. 2 session addressing the health needs of people who are deaf and hard of hearing.

Because most deaf Americans claim American Sign Language as their first language and English as their second, it becomes hard for the population to communicate issues to their health care providers, said APHA member Susan Haverkamp, PhD, program manager of health promotion and health care parity at Ohio State University's Nisonger Center.

"Many of the health messages out for the general population ... may not be accessible to this population," Haverkamp told attendees. "We would expect lower rates of health literacy."

Haverkamp and her fellow researchers took a chronic disease self-management program that was designed for people with disabilities and adapted it specifically for the deaf population.

The six-week pilot program was centered on small group workshops in which facilitators, with the help of an interpreter, delivered health information to deaf Ohioans, organizers said.

While participant satisfaction was high, Haverkamp said having a small group leader fluent in American Sign Language, rather than an interpreter, was critical. There was also a call to include more deaf community-specific content, such as how to advocate for rights and make accommodation requests to health care providers, she reported. …

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