News from the Deaf Wellness Center
Revamped DC-S Area of Website
We have completely revamped the sections of our website dealing with the Demand Control Schema for Interpreting (DC-S). To beging exploring these new pages, click on the Demand Control Schema link at left.
Partner Violence Research Project
The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, a branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,awarded the DWC a $1.2M grant to study intimate partner violence (IPV) affecting the Deaf community. This three-year project, now in its third year, is investigating characteristics of IPV perpetrators who are involved in relationships where one or both partners are deaf and communicate via American Sign Language. The project also examines IPV behaviors that are associated with the greater risk of injury. Dr. Robert Pollard, Director of the DWC, is leading the project. The project involves a series of 90 in-depth interviews with: 1) individuals who provide services to deaf IPV perpetrators or victims, 2) deaf IPV victims/survivors, and 3) individuals who have perpetrated violence in a relationship where one or both partners is a deaf ASL-user. We are now entering phase 3 of the study, interviewing persons who have been involved in physically violent or sexually coercive relationships where one or both parties in the relationship was a deaf individual. The study team will compare their findings with information regarding IPV perpetrators gained from studies of hearing perpetrators and victims.
View further information regarding ongoing grant-supported projects at the Deaf Wellness Center.
New Research Findings: Direct versus Interpreted Administration of the Signed Paired Associates Test
The Signed Paired Associates Test was developed through a collaborative effort between researchers at the University of Rochester and the University of California San Francisco. The SPAT is one of two tests of verbal (here meaning sign language-based) cognitive functions, developed by this team, designed for and normed with deaf individuals who communicate via sign language. The development and validation of the SPAT was reported in: Pollard, R. Q, Rediess, S., & DeMatteo, A. (2005). Development and validation of the Signed Paired Associates Test. Rehabilitation Psychology, 50(3), 258-265.
A recently-concluded, follow-up research study, funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, was designed to determine whether direct administration of the SPAT by sign-fluent examiners would yield test results equivalent to administration by examiners who communicated through qualified sign language interpreters. A second objective was to investigate the influence of age on SPAT performance, which would aid the design of later research studies seeking to establish age-specific SPAT norms. The main study findings are as follows.
Whether administered by a sign-fluent examiner (N=87) or a non-signing examiner working with a qualified sign language interpreter (N=86), nearly identical results were found across each of the SPAT's nine scores. A number of different statistical techniques all showed this striking degree of equivalence between the direct versus interpreted experimental conditions. This suggests that non-signing examiners can validly administer the SPAT, provided they do so in partnership with a qualified sign language interpreter. This would greatly expand the number of opportunities a deaf person has to undergo this test which can be highly useful in diagnosing a wide array of cognitive disorders (dementia, memory impairment, verbal learning disabilities and more); that is, deaf people do not have to find a sign-fluent clinician to administer the test.
As predicted, SPAT performance was found to vary as a function of subjects' age. (Subjects were between 18 and 74 years old.) Preliminary age norms are being calculated.
Data from the Symbol Digit Modalities Test (SDMT), used to screen our subjects for brain impairment, indicated that these deaf sign language-users showed slower levels of cognitive decline over the lifespan than did the general population subjects used to provide norms for the SDMT. This interesting finding raises the question of whether deafness, sign language use, or membership in the Deaf community (or some combination of these) serves as a protective factor against cognitive decline as deaf people age. A host of new research questions could emerge from this finding. These results have been accepted for presentation at the 2012 Association for Psychological Science meeting (Samar, V.J., Pollard, R.Q., & O’Hearn A. (2012). Deaf signers display slower cognitive decline across the lifespan than general norms. Association for Psychological Science, Chicago, IL, May 24-29.)
There is no literature regarding optimal methods of presenting informed consent information to deaf research subjects, especially those who communicate primarily via sign language. This SPAT study offered consent information in both written English and American Sign Language (ASL) formats (the latter on DVD). There was a clear preference of our older deaf subjects to watch the ASL DVD, even though it was 13 minutes long, in contrast to the younger subjects who overwhelmingly preferred to read the consent information in English (5 pages).
These and other results of this recently-concluded study will be presented in greater detail in upcoming conferences and publications.
Copies of these and other DWC publications are available fromRobert Pollard.
- Fellinger, J., Holzinger, D. & Pollard, R. (2012). Mental health of deaf people. The Lancet, 379(9820), 1037-1044.
- Dean, R. K. & Pollard, R. Q (2012). Beyond “interesting”: Using demand control schema to structure experiential learning. In K. Malcolm and L. Swabey (Eds.). In our hands: Educating healthcare interpreters (pp. 77 - 104). Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.
- Dean, R. K., Pollard, R. Q & Samar, V. J. (2011). Occupational health risks in different interpreting work settings: Special concerns for VRS and K-12 settings. Across the Board (quarterly publication of the Australian Sign Language Interpreters Association), 6(3), 4-8.
- Leigh, I. W. & Pollard, R. Q (2011). Mental health and deaf adults. In M. Marschark & P. E. Spencer (Eds.). Oxford handbook of deaf studies, language, and education, 2nd ed. (pp. 214-226). New York: Oxford University Press.
- Barnett, S., Klein, J. D., Pollard, R. Q Jr., Samar, V., Schlehofer, D., Starr, M., Sutter, E., Yang, H. & Pearson, T. A. (2011). Community participatory research with deaf sign language users to identify health inequities. American Journal of Public Health, 101(12), 2235-2238.
- Dean, R. K. & Pollard, R. Q (2011). Context-based ethical reasoning in interpreting: A demand control schema perspective. Interpreter and Translator Trainer, 5(1), 155-182.
- O’Hearn, A., Pollard, R. & Haynes, S. (2010). Dialectical behavior therapy for deaf clients: Cultural and linguistic modifications for outpatient mental health settings. In I. Leigh (Ed.). Psychotherapy with Deaf Clients from Diverse Groups (2nd ed.) (pp. 372-392). New York: Oxford University Press.
ASL FLU Films Produced for the CDC
Under contract from the CDC, the Deaf Wellness Center completed two films about flu prevention and treatment, one geared toward deaf adults, the other geared toward deaf parents (regarding their children). Both films can be viewed on YouTube (search for "Deaf Wellness Center") as well as on the CDC's website. Both films feature deaf characters conversing in ASL and both films have English voice-over and captions. You can view the YouTube versions here:
Upcoming Lectures and Workshops
Dr. Robert Pollard is presenting two lectures at the European Society for Mental Health and Deafness' November meeting in Lisbon, Portugal. He will be discussing the results to date from the intimate partner violence project noted above and also the investigation he led as Independent Mental Health Examiner appointed by the State of Hawaii to evaluate a sample of students, student safety issues at the Hawaii School for the Deaf, and relevant aspects of the Hawaiian community as it pertains to student safety, in partiuclar safety from sexual victimization.
Videophone (for voice callers or VP users)
- 866-637-7314 or
- 585-275-6785 (voice or TTY)
- 585-273-1117 (fax)
300 Crittenden Blvd.
Rochester, NY 14642