Challenged by his graduate professors to reach out to an underserved community, former Erlanger Emergency Department physician assistant Casey Davis began to research the health needs of the Deaf community. Due to the differences between English and American Sign Language (ASL), the Deaf community is considered high risk for low health literacy. As a result, Davis created DeafMD.org -- a freely-accessible, video-driven, health education website for the nearly one million sign language dependent Deaf in the U.S.
Realizing that there are many challenges the Deaf have to overcome, Dr. Davis will be attempting to overcome his own challenge to raise awareness and funding for DeafMD. On September 28, 2014, Davis is attempting to complete the Ironman Chattanooga - a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and 26.2 mile run - and raise $25,000 for the creation of additional health education videos in ASL.
ASL and English are two completely different languages, making the need for written English to be translated into sign an important bridge between the Deaf and written medical information. A study of more than 200 Deaf individuals revealed that more than 50% could not identify symptoms of a heart attack or stroke.
The videos provided by DeafMD provide the Deaf with a better understanding of illnesses, diseases, and their symptoms. Officials said 96 percent of surveyed visitors report a better understanding of their health after viewing DeafMD’s health education videos.
DeafMD, a component fund of the Community Fund of Carroll County, consists of a team of five volunteers. Since launching DeafMD.org in September of 2008, the 400 plus health education videos on the website have been viewed more than 1.5 million times by more than 400,000 visitors. DeafMD has been honored by Major League Baseball, People magazine, and was named the Association of Clinicians for the Underserved’s “Website of the Year” in 2013.