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235 Overcoming linguistic and cultural barriers: facilitating shared decision-making in genetic counselling for the deaf community
  1. Klara Savić1,
  2. Saeeda Bhatti2,
  3. Pouravi Rajiv Keerthi2
  1. 1Clinical Institute of Genetic Diagnostics, University Medical Centre Maribor, Maribor, Slovenia
  2. 2Department of Medical Genetics and Genomics, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK


Introduction Supporting shared decision-making (SDM) in genetic counselling for Deaf community members who use national sign languages comes with unique challenges. For example, insufficient sign language vocabulary for genetic terminology alongside the evident cultural distinctions between the Deaf and hearing communities. Our primary focus in this study is addressing questions: How do we facilitate effective SDM in genetic counselling when there is no shared genetic vocabulary and distinct cultural values exist between the Deaf and healthcare professionals?

Discussion and Results We investigated this phenomenon through two approaches. First, we conducted a literature search and examined online sign language dictionaries and Deaf community websites to understand how this linguistic gap influences Deaf genetic literacy in SDM. The second approach expands on the linguistic challenge, understanding broader cultural competence and interest among healthcare professionals involved in genetic counselling for the Deaf. We identified currently available educational resources for healthcare professionals on the Deaf community, sign language, and Deaf culture to find practical strategies that overcome cultural differences, enabling both parties to fully engage in SDM.

Conclusion However, even if new genetic vocabulary is introduced in national sign languages and the Deaf are educated on genetic backgrounds this is not enough to ensure SDM. It would be equally important to educate healthcare professionals who have a genuine interest in understanding the culture and beliefs of the Deaf community to create a mutually agreed upon course of action and improve SDM in genetic counselling for the Deaf.

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