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Rehabil Psychol. 2009 May;54(2):232-8. doi: 10.1037/a0015772.

Adapting health education material for deaf audiences.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Rochester School of Medicine.



The deaf population is an often-overlooked limited English proficiency (LEP) group at risk for health disparities associated with low health literacy. Lack of access to health information conveyed via radio, television, or ambient auditory sources such as public conversation further aggravates this population's low health literacy. Methods of adapting health education material for hearing LEP populations do not reach deaf audiences with equal effectiveness.


We adapt health education material for deaf audiences by first determining the "learning points" contained in vetted source material. A dialog-based film script covering those learning points is created. Supplemental content addressing common deaf population knowledge gaps and sociocultural experiences is added. Deaf actors are filmed following the adapted American Sign Language (ASL) script. Their ASL is back-translated into English to yield vocal track and subtitle scripts. The source material author(s) are consulted throughout the process to assure the film's adherence to the learning point list.


Users report that the adapted product is more relevant, engaging, and effective for deaf audiences.


This adaptation approach may aid in reducing deaf population health disparities.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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