A Pilot Study of Deaf Trauma Survivors' Experiences: Early Traumas Unique to Being Deaf in a Hearing World

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry, Systems and Psychosocial Advances Research Center

Publication Date


Document Type



Communication Sciences and Disorders | Mental and Social Health | Psychiatry and Psychology | Psychology | Translational Medical Research


Conducting semi-structured American Sign Language interviews with 17 Deaf trauma survivors, this pilot study explored Deaf individuals' trauma experiences and whether these experiences generally align with trauma in the hearing population. Most commonly reported traumas were physical assault, sudden unexpected deaths, and "other" very stressful events. Although some "other" events overlap with traumas in the general population, many are unique to Deaf people (e.g., corporal punishment at oral/aural school if caught using sign language, utter lack of communication with hearing parents). These findings suggest that Deaf individuals may experience developmental traumas distinct to being raised in a hearing world. Such traumas are not captured by available trauma assessments, nor are they considered in evidence-based trauma treatments.


UMCCTS funding, Deaf and hard-of-hearing community, Developmental trauma, Life Events Checklist, PTSD, Posttraumatic stress disorder

DOI of Published Version



J Child Adolesc Trauma. 2016 Dec;9(4):353-358. doi: 10.1007/s40653-016-0111-2. Epub 2016 Jun 24. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of child and adolescent trauma

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID