Skip to main content

University of Utah Health Presents “Language of Care”

Members of the Deaf Diabetes Can Together Community Advisory Board (CAB)
Members of the Deaf Diabetes Can Together Community Advisory Board (CAB) are working with University of Utah Health researchers to co-design health care for the Deaf community.

Navigating health care is hard enough when English is your first language—imagine the difficulty when American Sign is your first language. How can we bridge the linguistic and cultural gaps needed to better care for patients? University of Utah Health is proud to present Language of Care, an incredible story of how a community of Deaf patients are breaking barriers by co-designing their own care with U of U Health researchers.

Made possible by generous support from the Kahlert Foundation, Language of Care premiered at Sundance Film Festival 2023. The film showcases an innovative approach to health care being co-created by Michelle Litchman, PhD, her research team, and members of the Deaf community from across the country. Together, they lead a program called Deaf Diabetes Can Together. Litchman is a nurse practitioner, diabetes researcher, and Medical Director of the Intensive Diabetes Education and Support (IDEAS) Program at the University of Utah.

Michelle Litchman
Language of Care premiered at Sundance Film Festival 2023 followed by a panel discussion with U of U Health researchers including Michelle Litchman, PhD, and members of the Deaf community. Credit: Charlie Ehlert

Nearly 40 million people in the U.S. live with diabetes, but the majority of Deaf people with diabetes do not have equal access to health care. The film tells the story of how Deaf Diabetes Can Together is creating solutions for health equity in the Deaf community. By understanding the community’s unique needs, the team is tailoring educational and other types of resources to increase access to accurate information and care. This model is being replicated for rural, Pacific Islander and other under-resourced communities.

“Together, with our patients, we’re changing the way heath care works,” Litchman explains in Language of Care.

Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Ross Kauffman came to Utah to document the Language of Care story. Kauffman has directed a number of award-winning films, including Born into BrothelsOf Medicine and Miracles, and TigerlandLanguage of Care was produced by Robin Honan with executive producers Joe Borgenicht of U of U Health, award-winning documentarian Geralyn Dreyfous, and Heather Kahlert of the Kahlert Foundation.

Language of Care director Ross Kauffman and Deaf Diabetes Can Together member Tamiko Rafeek
Language of Care director Ross Kauffman and Deaf Diabetes Can Together member Tamiko Rafeek at Sundance Film Festival 2023. Credit Charlie Ehlert

Language of Care is the third film in the U of U Health-produced series New Narratives in Health, which brings together scientists and artists to more broadly communicate advances in knowledge. The first film in the series, One in a Million, tells the story of how advanced genomic technologies combined with expert clinical insights vastly improved the quality of life for Tyler, a boy with a rare, debilitating disease. The second, Meet Me Where I Am, follows Adolphus Nickleberry through his journey at U of U Health's Intensive Outpatient Clinic as he rewrites his story, which had been shaped by health disparities.

Learn more at Language of Care.