Moving forward with dignity: Exploring health awareness in an isolated Deaf community of Australia

Daniel R. Terry, Ph.D, Quynh Lê, Ph.D., Hoang Boi Nguyen, Ph.D.

Disability and Health Journal, Vol. 9, Issue 2, p281–288
Published online: November 20, 2015


Those within the Deaf community are disadvantaged in a number of aspects of day-to-day life including their access to health care. At times, they may encounter barriers to health care even before they reach the consultation room. As a consequence, they may receive insufficient and inappropriate health care which may lead to poorer health outcomes.


A study was conducted to explore health awareness and access to health information and services of Deaf people living in Tasmania, Australia and identify ways of enhancing the interaction between the Deaf and the wider community.


A questionnaire was administered, including a number of demographic, health awareness and health service usage questions. In addition, semi-structured interviews and focus groups were conducted with service providers and the Deaf community between March and August 2014. An interpreter was present to translate the questions into Auslan and who then translated the Deaf participant’s discussion into English for the researcher. Data were then analyzed using research software SPSS v20.0 and NVivo 10.0.


Health as a concept was poorly understood, including mental health, sexual health and health concerning alcohol and drug abuse. Regarding health care resources, due to a sense of security, trust and confidence, the family physician or general practitioner was the single most important health care provider among the Deaf.


The Deaf remain underserved by the current health care system; however, through resourcefulness and life experiences, the Deaf have developed coping and management strategies to move forward with dignity in education, meaningful employment and health access.