Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Cindy Janssen-Holweger


Persons With Hearing Impairments; Sign Language


The purpose of this scholarly project is to educate occupational therapists on American Sign Language (ASL) to enhance communication when working with Deaf individuals. Currently, in the United States, 12% of the population has trouble with their hearing, ranging from small auditory deficiencies to complete deafness. Many of these individuals communicate by using ASL which is now the 3rd most commonly used primary language in the United States (Barnett, 2002). In addition, Deaf individuals are found to have more difficulty with activities of daily living (ADLs) which may indicate more involvement with ~T. Because most healthcare workers OTs are not familiar with ASL, miscommunication occurs between the OT and Deaf individuals during therapy sessions.

A literature review was conducted with the use of PubMed, ASL textbooks and the internet. The literature review determined a need for healthcare workers to know ASL as this is the most effective and efficient method of communication with deaf individuals. Some studies also described health care concerns of Deaf individuals that warrant OT involvement. Finally, the literature for more knowledgeable healthcare providers suggested methods for educating healthcare workers on ASL.

Since OTs work directly with Deaf individuals on ADLs, A workshop and manual was designed with the guidance of the Adult Learning Theory and the Social Learning Theory. Since most OTs use workshops to fulfill their continuing education requirements, a workshop would be the most appropriate method to educate them on ASL. Also, a manual was designed for OTs to reference when needed, and to help them transfer their skills into daily practice.

The workshop and manual will provide OTs with the skills needed to effectively and efficiently evaluate their Deaf clients using ASL. It is recommended that all participants of the workshop continue learning and expanding their knowledge of ASL by attending ASL courses in their community. This will allow the OTs to become more informed and fluent when using ASL to evaluate and intervene with their Deaf clients.