COVID-19 Deaf Health and Healthcare Access Research
Year: 2020-2021
Focus: PROMIS-Deaf Profile: Patient Reported Outcomes Research
NIH Award: 3R01DC014463-05S4

Part 1 

Findings from a Survey of
Deaf Americans: COVID-19 Awareness and Risk Perceptions

Summary written by Poorna Kushalnagar, Ph.D.
Director, Center for Deaf Health Equity
Infographics provided by the Office of University Communications

In this report, we provide a summary of results from Part 1 of a survey of deaf people who use American Sign Language (ASL).  Part 1 gathers information about deaf people’s awareness of COVID-19 and their perceived risk of infection. We will share results from Part 2 about deaf people’s experience with accessing health care during the pandemic. This project is funded by the National Institutes of Health/NIDCD.

During the week of March 19, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posted its first series of ASL videos about COVID-19. One month later, Gallaudet surveyed deaf Americans about COVID-19 awareness and risk perceptions through social media for two weeks (April 17-May 1) and participant pool database through the Deaf Health Communication and Quality of Life Center for one week (April 26-May 1). As of May 1, 2020, over 500 deaf Americans who used ASL had completed an online bilingual ASL/English survey. All analyses were weighted to reflect the deaf U.S. population who were born deaf or became deaf prior to 18 years. 

Deaf people who did not know much about physical/social distancing were more likely to believe that physical/social distancing is not effective in preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

Overall, 43% of the sample are not worried or a little worried about getting the coronavirus.

Access to Coronavirus Information for Deaf Elderly Signers

During the initial phase of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S., many deaf senior ASL (American Sign Language) users became lost in an overload of information from the media. Their daily lives have been impacted in many ways, ranging from going to food stores and doctor’s visits. Our center has developed several instructional ASL videos for deaf seniors, with the goal of supporting their navigation through the pandemic.