JOURNAL ARTICLE

Using American sign language interpreters to facilitate research among deaf adults: lessons learned

Kate Sheppard
Journal of Transcultural Nursing: Official Journal of the Transcultural Nursing Society 2011, 22 (2): 129-34
21317405

BACKGROUND: Health care providers commonly discuss depressive symptoms with clients, enabling earlier intervention. Such discussions rarely occur between providers and Deaf clients. Most culturally Deaf adults experience early-onset hearing loss, self-identify as part of a unique culture, and communicate in the visual language of American Sign Language (ASL). Communication barriers abound, and depression screening instruments may be unreliable.

PURPOSE: To train and use ASL interpreters for a qualitative study describing depressive symptoms among Deaf adults.

METHOD: Training included research versus community interpreting. During data collection, interpreters translated to and from voiced English and ASL.

RESULTS: Training eliminated potential problems during data collection. Unexpected issues included participants asking for "my interpreter" and worrying about confidentiality or friendship in a small community.

CONCLUSIONS: Lessons learned included the value of careful training of interpreters prior to initiating data collection, including resolution of possible role conflicts and ensuring conceptual equivalence in real-time interpreting.

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