Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2023

Document Type


First Advisor

Christine Gannon

Second Advisor

Daniel Lundberg


Currently, there is not much known about the Deaf/Hard of Hearing (HH) college student population's experience of learning about and navigating the healthcare system both as young adults and as college students. When a student starts college, especially further away from their home, they will get less support from their family which leaves them to rely on their health literacy. As an added challenge, Deaf/HH individuals often experience additional communication barriers. The purpose of this project was to explore the experiences of Deaf/hard of hearing students seeking healthcare at Gallaudet University. This researcher facilitated two workshops that provided education in health literacy and how to navigate the healthcare system, along with two focus groups as part of the project to collect narratives from the participants. The data was analyzed using a mixed method approach with two separate data sources: workshops and focus groups. From the workshops, the researcher collected both qualitative and quantitative data through self-reported evaluations using Google Forms during the workshops. The researcher also collected qualitative data on ASL narratives in focus groups. The results of these studies how that many students rarely sought healthcare, and those who sought healthcare often did not feel confident navigating healthcare. In addition to the data, the researcher was able to identify several themes from the narratives shared during the focus group. The themes are: a social network, cultural awareness/ignorance, commonly preferred accommodation, care/accommodation quality, and lack of shared decision-making. The focus group also discussed those experiences that the participants felt benefited them the most. College students already represent a small population of young deaf adults which means further studies and intervention is necessary for those who were excluded from this project.


This student ultimately did not graduate with Undergraduate University Honors. However, the Honors Council accepted their capstone so it is included in this collection.



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