Date of Conferral

2017

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Psychology

Advisor

Leann Stadtlander

Abstract

The preferred method of communication for most prelingual/culturally Deaf individuals is American Sign Language (ASL), and members of this linguistic/cultural minority community are often not recognized as being bilingual. Many prelingually/culturally Deaf individuals have limitations and deficits in English proficiency; which can lead to deficits in general knowledge of health-related terminology. Current projections are that older adults are expected to live longer, and will also experience the development of, increases in and more extended periods of living with senescence/age-related health disorders, also includes prelingual/culturally Deaf individuals. This quantitative research project, utilizing the theoretical framework of health literacy and a modified version of the REALM (Rapid Estimate of Health Literacy in Medicine), utilizing American Sign Language (ASL) graphics; analyzed the convergence of prelingual/cultural Deafness and health literacy related to senescence/age-related disorders. An evaluation of a sample population of 27 Deaf participants, on health-related items of medical words, medical conditions medical procedures, and medical/numeracy instructions revealed significant deficits in all areas of health literacy. These deficits are critical and impact one's ability to manage effectively, age-related disorders. The results of this study will inform the health care community of the unrecognized magnitude, implication, and the need for positive social change in health care policies and procedures related to the appropriate provision of medical, health care, and health-related information for prelingual/culturally Deaf individuals.