Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

MaryEllen Thompson

Department Affiliation

Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

Second Advisor

Karen Petronio

Department Affiliation

American Sign Language and Interpreter Education

Third Advisor

Shirley P. O'Brien

Department Affiliation

Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy


Background: The purpose of this narrative study was to understand personal experiences of a Deaf individual when communicating with healthcare professionals, to describe personal feelings regarding challenges and successes experienced during healthcare interactions, and express the need for culturally competent healthcare providers with increasingly diverse populations.

Method: The participant interviewed is a member of the Deaf community, uses American Sign Language (ASL), and had multiple decades of major medical treatments. The study was conducted using a semi-structured method with a certified interpreter (CI) present to interpret and was audio and video recorded to account for all aspects of the signed language.

Results: There were a total of 5 narratives and 4 major themes found throughout the interview. In addition, a section of other important information as stated by the Deaf participant was added to better explain the viewpoints of the participant. Results demonstrate the importance of including a certified interpreter to facilitate comprehension and understanding by Deaf individuals during medical treatments.

Conclusion: Utilizing a person’s native language gives them the opportunity to be fully involved and competent when making important health decisions. Culturally competent healthcare professionals are needed as populations continue to grow in diversity in order to provide all clients with satisfying care.