About the project


This research concerns Deaf people who use British Sign Language (BSL) and experience anxiety and/or depression. Deaf people are more likely to have poorer mental health than the general population. They face difficulties in accessing services, and recovery from mental health difficulties is often not as good. In some parts of the UK, Deaf people receive therapy from Deaf professionals in BSL, without an interpreter. But this is not always possible because Deaf people live all over the country and there are very few Deaf therapists.

One possible solution is for Deaf people to have therapy in BSL via a video call, but it is not known if this would be helpful or not. Therefore, this research study has been set up to find out whether it would be helpful – or not – for Deaf people to have psychological therapy in BSL via video call. It is not known if this method would be as effective as the Deaf person having face-to-face therapy in person without using video call.

Another potential problem is measuring recovery. Usually, a therapist will ask a patient to fill in questionnaires about their mood and how they feel at the start of therapy and at regular intervals throughout therapy to track progress and recovery. These are available in BSL, but we do not know if patients will respond differently if they do this ‘live’ (in person), in BSL, with a therapist or if they do them via a computer in response to a video.

It is also important to find out what patients’ experiences are of health services. Hearing people have a questionnaire that is designed to do this. There is not one for Deaf people that matches their culture and language.

Overview of the study


Aims of the research

  • To find out if video call therapy in BSL is helpful for Deaf people who use BSL and have anxiety and/or depression.
  • To find out if doing an assessment online in BSL is the same as doing it live in BSL.
  • To design and test a new questionnaire about Deaf patients’ experience of healthcare services.

By doing this work we will know whether we should develop a large-scale study to test video call psychological therapy for Deaf patients.

To begin with, two systematic reviews will be carried out:

  • First systematic review to address the question: “What does the available literature conclude about the mental and physical health of adult Deaf population(s)?”
  • Second systematic review to address the question: “What is the efficacy and effectiveness of telemedicine intervention for Deaf signing populations in comparison to face-to-face interventions?”

Study one

A pilot experimental study on psychological assessment in BSL. This will involve Deaf people completing the questionnaires in BSL online as well as face-to-face. We will find out if people respond in the same way regardless of how they complete the questionnaire.

Study two

A new questionnaire called the BSL Patient Experience Questionnaire will be created. It will include questions in BSL that are important and relevant to Deaf people and their experience in healthcare. We will check with Deaf people to find out if it makes sense to them and will test it out with Deaf people.

Study three

We will compare therapy in BSL via video call and via face-to-face. We will recruit Deaf people with anxiety and/or depression. This study will find out if we can recruit enough people in good time, if Deaf people mind being told which therapy to have, if there are differences in the recovery of Deaf people who received therapy via video call compared to those who received face-to-face therapy. Participants will complete the BSL Patient Experience Questionnaire, and some will be interviewed.