Understanding dementia: effective information access from the Deaf community's perspective

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This study concerns older Deaf sign language users in the UK. Its aim was to explore how to enable effective information access and promote awareness and understanding of dementia from a culturally Deaf perspective. A purposive sample of 26 Deaf people without dementia participated in one of three focus groups facilitated directly in British Sign Language (BSL) without an intermediate interpreter. The sample was differentiated by age, role in the Deaf community, and diversity of educational attainment and professional experience. A phenomenological approach underpinned the thematic analysis of data. The findings demonstrate: (i) translation into (BSL) is a necessary but not sufficient condition to support understanding. Attention to culturally preferred means of engagement with information is vital; (ii) the content of information is best presented utilising structures and formats which cohere with Deaf people's visual cognitive strengths; and (iii) the importance of cultural values and cultural practices in raising awareness and building understanding of dementia. These include collective rather than individual responsibility for knowledge transfer and the pan-national nature of knowledge transfer among Deaf people(s). The discussion demonstrates how these specific features of effective information access and awareness building have universal implications relevant to public engagement and the promotion of general knowledge consistent with the National Dementia Strategy (England).

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-47
JournalHealth and Social Care in the Community
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2014

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