PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


Engaging deaf and hearing people to design docu-drama on genetics research
Preliminary perspectives

Bernard AppiahDepartment of Public Health, Falk College, Syracuse University. Ghana


  • Elvis Twumasi Aboagye West African Centre for Cell Biology and Infectious Pathogens, University of Ghana   Ghana
  • Kyerewaa Akuamoah Boateng West African Centre for Cell Biology and Infectious Pathogens, University of Ghana   Ghana
  • Paulina TindanaUniversity of Ghana School of Public Health   Ghana
  • Alfred TsiboeKEBA Africa   Ghana
The perspectives of deaf people in the design and implementation of science communication research projects are largely lacking particularly in low- and middle-income countries. According to the World Health Organization, disabling hearing loss affects over 5% of the global population or 466 million people. But how do you explain the genetics of deafness to deaf people and their family members?

A multidisciplinary team involving genetics researchers, deaf actors, actors who can hear, public engagement scholars and drama production experts in Ghana are working together to produce two 25-minute docu-drama science communication toolkits. One docu-drama will use only sign language to help reach deaf students of at least 18 years old in six Ghanaian schools for the deaf while the other docu-drama (with sign language insert) will be used to engage family members of deaf students.

The purpose of the toolkits is to help deaf people and their family members to understand the need for genetics research into hearing impairment or deafness. The lack of such a toolkit is making it challenging for Ghanaian researchers to engage deaf people and their family members for research into genetics of hearing impairment.

In June 2019, the multidisciplinary team of 30 people took part in a two-day, deliberative workshop. The workshop identified the challenges and opportunities of using docu-drama to engage with deaf people and their family members. The workshop also identified storylines for creating docu-drama on the genetics of hearing impairment, and key genetics terms that needed to be explained, among others.

In this Insight Talk (New ideas), we will share preliminary outcomes of the project including the script, and how the perspectives of deaf members on the team are shaping the project. We believe that our project is transformative because it widens the participation in science communication research for deaf people.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Category: Insight talk
Theme: Transformation