Toward Equity: Innovative, Collaborative Research on Interpreter Training, DBT, and Psychological Testing

The Deaf Wellness Center (DWC) was awarded a five year research grant by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) in mid-2004. NIDRR is a branch of the U.S. Department of Education. The research involves activities in three thematic categories: mental health interpreting, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and psychological testing. Most of the studies are multi-site, collaborative ventures. The resulting expanded, diverse subject pool will facilitate greater relevance of our research findings to deaf, hard-of-hearing, and deafblind consumers from ethnic and language minority groups. Each project also results in a tangible product that will enhances access to and/or the effectiveness of mental health services for these groups.

The interpreter training project builds upon the DWC's prior innovations in interpreter training and applies them to four geographically dispersed urban settings. A team of experts in the mental health interpreting field are employing the DWC's demand-control schema approach and implement a 5-month program of training and supervision with a local interpreter pool. Their subsequent services in mental health settings and the impact this training has on consumer access and outcomes is the focus of the 3-year study. A series of Objective Structured Clinical Exams (OSCEs), a means of evaluating judgment and other skills in the practice professions, will be produced during this project and a final OSCE and training practice manual will be published. This project may well establish new standards and practices for the training, evaluation, and certification of mental health interpreters.

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a highly structured treatment approach focusing on emotional regulation and behavioral self-control. Research evidence of DBT's effectiveness in treating a wide variety of mental disorders is mounting. Yet, the standard materials and practices employed in DBT are poorly suited for the average deaf consumer, much less those with language limitations or secondary disabilities or disorders. The 3-part DBT project adapts DBT materials and methods to maximize treatment access and efficacy with three deaf consumer populations those with language skills, those with limited language, and those with comorbid psychiatric and substance abuse problems. In each of these studies, DBT materials and methods are being adapted for the target population and then be employed in multiple sites by expert collaborators. All-deaf DBT treatment groups and deaf consumers in mainstreamed DBT groups both are being studied. Consumer comprehension of DBT concepts, their application of DBT skills, and a variety of clinical outcome measures are being tracked over the course of repeated 6-month follow-up interviews. The adapted materials for use with these three populations will be produced and disseminated throughout the course of this five year project.

The Signed Paired Associates Test and the ASL Stories Test are tests of verbal learning and memory for sign language users. Extensive data exist at the DWC regarding the tests' psychometric properties and clinical utility but it needs to be analyzed. This research has implications for the assessment of dementias, retardation, learning disabilities, etc. A second testing project is the development of a psychosis symptom rating scale. Psychosis is known to manifest differently in deaf versus hearing patients. Diagnosing psychosis in deaf individuals and differentiating psychosis from thought/language dysfluency arising from other causes is a serious challenge. Again employing expert consultants and multi-site research procedures, a rating scale will be developed and tested with a large and diverse deaf patient sample, the goal of which is to produce a tool that clinicians can employ to reliably and validly identify the nature and severity of psychotic symptomatology in deaf subjects. Finally, a psychological testing casebook will be written, based on reviews of hundreds of DWC psychological testing case files. The publication of the accumulated expertise and experience of the DWC in the area of psychological testing will be a unique and valuable asset, for clinicians, students, and researchers alike.

This research is being conducted through grant #H133A031105, "Toward Equity: Innovative Collaborative Research on Interpreter Training, DBT, and Psychological Testing" was from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) in the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS). However, the contents of this website pertaining to this research, and related research publications, do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal government.

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