Mediated Communication in Context: Narrative Approaches to Understanding Encounters Between Health Care Providers and Deaf People
Keywords:Deaf/hard-of-hearing, Health-care communication, Narrative, Effective communication access, Cultural competency, Social model of deafness
Deaf/hard-of-hearing, Health-care communication, Narrative, Effective communication access, Cultural competency, Social model of deafness
Deaf people experience disparities in health care that are often the result of (or exacerbated by) difficulties of communication. Health care providers often lack cultural understandings of Deaf communication and culture and thus do not provide effective communication access. U.S. disability law is meant to guarantee communication access, but deaf people's stories of access indicate that they may still encounter barriers to effective access. We report on an action research project designed to enhance communication among deaf people, health care professionals, and sign-language interpreters. We draw upon a social model of disability, which locates barriers to inclusion in society and the environment rather than the embodied difference or impairment, and extend that to the condition of deafness. We argue that narrative and dialogue that develops cultural understandings of Deaf communication and culture can offer a means of facilitating mutual understanding among the parties involved. Our hope is that interventions based on this approach will contribute to greater health-care access for deaf people.