Assessing Deaf Awareness: Training and Attitudes of Recent Genetic Counseling Graduates

by Honey Nagakura

Institution: Brandeis University
Year: 2014
Keywords: Deaf Awareness; Cultural Competency; Genetic Counseling; Deaf; Hearing Loss; Graduate Training; Deaf Cultural Competency
Record ID: 2029698
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10192/26312http://bir-test.unet.brandeis.edu/bitstream/10192/26312/7/NagakuraThesis2014.pdf.txt


Previous research has suggested when healthcare providers lack cultural competence, minority groups, including the Deaf community, may be adversely affected. Although most genetic counseling programs incorporate cultural competency training to educate students regarding the needs, concerns, and cultural values of specific minority groups, there is limited information on the extent of Deaf Awareness training. The purpose of this study was to assess the Deaf Awareness training of recent genetic counseling graduates and the impact of such training on both knowledge of deafness and Deaf culture and attitudes toward deaf people. We recruited genetic counselors who graduated within the past five years through the NSGC listserv for participation in an anonymous, online survey. Of the 135 respondents analyzed, twenty-six percent (n=35) reported no Deaf Awareness training and 51% (n=69) reported limited training (1-2 hours) conducted primarily by a program instructor, using tools such as readings and discussions. Almost one-third (31%) of respondents felt that their Deaf Awareness training was insufficient. When assessing knowledge of deafness and Deaf culture, respondents lacked knowledge regarding the effects of cochlear implants on residual hearing, communication between deaf children and hearing parents, and working with sign language interpreters. Overall, there did not appear to be significant differences between respondents who had Deaf Awareness training and those who did not, with respect to knowledge of deafness and Deaf culture or attitudes toward deaf people. These findings suggest that genetic counseling students may not be receiving adequate training regarding Deaf Awareness during their graduate education. Future efforts should focus on designing more effective Deaf Awareness training for genetic counseling students, and investigating whether improved Deaf Awareness results in better genetic counseling experiences for Deaf individuals.