Developing Reproductive Health Communication Tools for Deaf Women in Ghana

This week, WHO marked World Hearing Day, a welcome opportunity to revisit the the work of Mandela Washington Fellowship alumna Alice Aryeetey and Dawn Carey, our Associate Director of Global Health and Development. Aryeetey, a Ghanian journalist and activist, is developing reproductive health communication tools for deaf women; last fall, Carey joined her on a reciprocal exchange visit

Deaf Ghanian women like Akua Afarebea and Belinda Agyei grapple with significant hurdles in accessing essential reproductive healthcare services. Hindered by communication barriers, they find themselves relying on unreliable sources or avoiding medical facilities altogether.

In a groundbreaking initiative, Ghanaian journalist Alice Aryeetey and Dawn Carey, Associate Director of Global Health & Development at the Dickey Center, collaborated on the "DEAFinitely Healthy" project aiming to address the critical lack of reproductive health information for deaf women in Ghana. Through collaboration and workshops with healthcare professionals, the project seeks to develop communication tools tailored to the needs of the deaf community.

During simulations at medical facilities like Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in the suburbs of Accra, the challenges become starkly evident. Clinicians struggle to understand deaf patients, often misinterpreting crucial information. Despite efforts to introduce basic sign language training in nursing curricula, the current initiatives fall short of meeting the communication needs.

The president of the Ghana National Association of the Deaf, Matthew Kubachua, expresses optimism about the DEAFinitely Healthy project but underscores the ongoing neglect faced by the hearing-impaired community.

But for deaf women like Akua and Belinda, the prospect of an inclusive healthcare system offers hope. As the project progresses, the development of tailored communication tools promises to revolutionize healthcare accessibility for deaf women, potentially saving lives in the process.

Read Alice Aryeetey's full story about the DEAFinitely Healthy project here, and contact Dawn Carey at the Dickey Center to learn more about the Mandela Washington Fellowship reciprocal exchange opportunities available for Dartmouth staff and faculty.