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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Survey / Study on Deaf Experiences

The purpose of this study is to investigate difficult social experiences that deaf/Deaf and hard of hearing people may have faced in childhood, such as trauma as a result of oppression or abuse, and how these experiences shape their sense of identity and social interactions as adults, with particular attention to experiences of exclusion.

The focus of the study is on social interactions between deaf and hearing people. However, the study also examines social interactions of deaf people with other deaf people, and intersectionalities of oppression. Another focus is on identifying both positive and less adaptive ways that deaf people handle difficult social interactions. Deaf people age 18 and up are compared by generations, gender, and whether participants had sign language as their first language. The study involves an internet survey distributed to the United States and Canada, and email interviews with participants in the United States. 

This study also aims to inform clinicians working with deaf clients, and policy makers, about how oppression can affect deaf people’s sense of identity and social development. Psychological distress due to oppression in social interactions has important ramifications in the social lives of deaf people. The results of this study will be available in June 2018.

There will also be an opportunity for U.S. participants to participate in an email interview to talk more about their experiences, after they have completed the survey. You will receive a $25 Amazon gift card for participating in the email interview. If you are interested in participating in the email interview, or have questions about the study, please contact

This study is a dissertation by Holly Siegrist, M.A., M.S., a deaf doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology Program at Alliant International University and supervised by Rhoda Olkin, Ph.D., at the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University, San Francisco.

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