Enhancing Communication With the Deaf Through Simulation

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There are approximately 28 million people living in the United States with some type of hearing impairment.1 Individuals with profound hearing loss after a good understanding of spoken language is learned are considered deaf with a lower case “d.” Individuals identifying themselves as part of the Deaf community, often using American Sign Language (ASL), are considered part of the Deaf culture and therefore use a capital “D” in the word Deaf.2 Communication barriers between deaf patients and health care providers is a problem to the Deaf community who may receive inadequate medical attention, privacy breaches, and unnecessary stress during medical care/treatment.3
Interventions such as looking at the patient when talking, establishing eye contact, and asking the preferred method of communication will improve the outcome of a Deaf individual’s health care visit.4 Lacking these verbal/nonverbal skills by health care providers and employees can cause Deaf patients to develop feelings of insecurity, anxiety, and stress during their medical appointment or hospitalization.5 The communication barrier between a nurse and the nonhearing patient may affect quality of care. Many health care personnel become nervous when dealing with Deaf patients, because they do not know how to communicate with the patient.6 General awareness training of the Deaf community should be provided to nursing students and the nursing workforce.
The purpose of this project was to develop a simulation for nursing students to learn to communicate with the Deaf. Nursing students interacted directly with Deaf participants and received an educational intervention on techniques of communicating with Deaf persons.
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