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Engaging the Deaf American Sign Language Community: Lessons From a Community-Based Participatory Research Center


Background: Numerous publications demonstrate the importance of community-based participatory research (CBPR) in community health research, but few target the Deaf community. The Deaf community is understudied and underrepresented in health research despite suspected health disparities and communication barriers.

Objectives: The goal of this paper is to share the lessons learned from the implementation of CBPR in an understudied community of Deaf American Sign Language (ASL) users in the greater Rochester, New York, area.

Methods: We review the process of CBPR in a Deaf ASL community and identify the lessons learned.

Results: Key CBPR lessons include the importance of engaging and educating the community about research, ensuring that research benefits the community, using peer-based recruitment strategies, and sustaining community partnerships. These lessons informed subsequent research activities.

Conclusions: This report focuses on the use of CBPR principles in a Deaf ASL population; lessons learned can be applied to research with other challenging-to-reach populations.

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