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Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing

Deaf researcher graduates with PhD on lives of Deaf people living with dementia

11 January 2017

Dr Emma Ferguson-Coleman has graduated with a PhD from The University of Manchester following work on the ‘Deaf with Dementia’ project, funded by the Alzheimer’s Society. She is the first Deaf sign language user in the world to interview Deaf people living with dementia about their care and support experiences.

Emma’s PhD research involved producing first-hand testimony of the lives and experiences of Deaf people with dementia and their primary carers. This information is instrumental in influencing future care and support practices for this cultural and linguistic minority community.

Emma said, “I am delighted to remain as a member of the excellent Social Research with Deaf People (SORD) team. All of the members of the team and I look forward to encouraging more potential PhD students who are also Deaf BSL users to join our research team to achieve more success.”

Dr Ferguson-Coleman will now work on a revolutionary ‘life story’ app which uses photos and videos to support Deaf people living with dementia to share their historical and cultural reference point. This will help reinforce their proud Deaf identities and to improve connections with their primary carers within community and residential unit environments.

The project is part of the ESRC and NIHR-funded ‘Neighbourhoods and Dementia’ study, for which a team of experts are exploring, investigating and evaluating the role of neighbourhoods in the everyday lives of people with dementia and their families. The Manchester-led project is the first large-scale research programme to work alongside people with dementia and their families in a variety of roles from advisers to co-researchers.

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