Deaf Culture and Birth

DTI is committed to respecting and celebrating diversity in all its forms, including diversity of ability. That’s why we are excited to announce our newest expert affiliate video by Ally Balsley and Brittany Noschese, DTI doulas and owners of Hand Waves Birth Services. Ally and Brittany provide birth and postpartum services in the MD/VA/DC area.

Ally and Brittany are deaf doulas and share what working with deaf/signing individuals and families is like in the birth community, including the challenges faced, the triumphs, and tips for how other doulas can be advocates and allies in the deaf community. Their expert affiliate video provides the following:

  • Introduction to deaf culture: Deaf people have a culture of their own, and place emphasis on things hearing people may not notice. For example, eye contact during communication is essential for deaf people.

  • Importance of communication: Ally and Brittany discuss communication styles in the deaf community, ASL (American Sign Language) interpreters, and the rights of deaf people to have access to direct communication in any setting

  • How doulas can serve deaf families: While not a comprehensive list, Ally and Brittany communicate how a doula, whether deaf or hearing, can communicate with their clients during birth. They also share stories, good and bad, about how their clients have been served by themselves and their medical care providers.

Ally and Brittany also share several resources in this video for all doulas to have on hand when and if they have a deaf client.

  • The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf is a good place to look for ASL certified interpreters

  • This is a directory of mental health professionals who serve deaf people – especially important for new parents who may be feeling lonely as a new deaf parent

  • This is a directory of birth professionals (midwives, doulas, lactation consultants, etc) who know ASL

  • Hand Waves Birth Services is owned by Ally and Brittany. We are so grateful for their video, and their kind offer to answer any questions that folks may have about deaf culture and birth.

We are so excited for this video and hope this brief clip is enough to get you excited, too! Who can view this video? The Expert Affiliate videos are created as part of the ongoing Expert Affiliate collection. The full archived library of these videos are available to DTI members. If you’re not a member, you can sign up right now.

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