Conducting Research with the Deaf Community

Posted in: News

Posted on September 29, 2022

When doing research with the deaf community,* it is important to consider culturally appropriate data collection methods out of respect for participants and to obtain better data. In this brief, the Urban Institute and Gallaudet University describe the methods they used to evaluate Barrier Free Living’s (BFL’s) Deaf Services (DS) program, which aims to improve direct services for domestic violence survivors who are deaf and increase local stakeholders’ awareness of deaf survivors’ needs in New York City. This research was conducted through funding from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, with guidance from the CUNY Institute for State & Local Governance.

To make the evaluation culturally appropriate, it was key to (1) build trust with the deaf community we engaged in the study; (2) ensure one of the researchers was fluent in American Sign Language (ASL), which enabled direct communication with deaf staff and consumers; 3) use interpreters and technologies to support communication with deaf participants; and (4) modify data collection tools and procedures to ensure they were accessible. These strategies helped the researchers secure support from stakeholder partners and center the perspectives of deaf staff and survivors. The researchers present considerations and lessons learned from the evaluation to encourage other researchers to pursue culturally appropriate research in the deaf community.

Download the full “Conducting Research with the Deaf Community” brief here.

To read the evaluation on which this brief was based, see here.

* Lowercase deaf is typically used to refer to the physical condition of having limited or no hearing, whereas uppercase Deaf refers to deaf people who identify as belonging to the linguistic/cultural community that uses American Sign Language as its primary language. Except when referring specifically to Deaf culture, for purposes of inclusivity and simplicity, we use deaf in this brief to refer to people who are Deaf, deaf, hard of hearing, late-deafened, or Deaf-Blind.


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