Discovering Deaf Worlds and World Federation of the Deaf launches Three-Year Social Inclusion of the Deaf in the Dominican Republic Program

Press Release

ROCHESTER, N.Y., 1 August 2017 — Discovering Deaf Worlds (DDW) and the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) are entering the first of six phases in a three-year program in collaboration with the National Deaf Association of the Dominican Republic (ANSORDO). This program, supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), will improve ANSORDO’s sustainability through organisational development, process consultation and human rights training from DDW and WFD. 

Under this cooperative agreement with USAID, DDW will be the lead organisation to implement the program, “Social Inclusion of the Deaf in the Dominican Republic,” in partnership with ANSORDO to advance the rights of the Dominican Deaf Community through local capacity building.

ANSORDO President, Liliana Mariotti expressed, “We want to improve our Deaf Community’s quality of life, development, and deaf identity and we need laws and regulations to support those efforts.” Mariotti has high aspirations for the program and as a result of this collaboration with the DDW and WFD, she feels she will be better prepared to support, lead, and empower the Deaf Community.

“The need for access to education, accessibility, and equality is evident within the Dominican Deaf Community. With the support from this program, ANSORDO will be better equipped to self-advocate as well as engage in crucial discussions with the Dominican public and policy makers that will lead to the advancement of the community”, said History Estill-Varner, Program Director of DDW.

DDW’s leadership, Executive Director Davin Searls and Estill-Varner will travel to the Dominican Republic in August to implement phase one of the program. This phase begins with a comprehensive survey to determine the precise community/organisational issues faced by deaf people in the Dominican Republic. Based on this needs assessment, a series of interventions and priority training topics will be identified and developed, addressing the most pressing needs of the Dominican Deaf Community as a whole.

Trainings may encompass topics such as data collection, strategic planning, disability law, leadership succession, financial management, fund development, and so forth. By year three, ANSORDO’s core team of leaders trained throughout the program will host a national forum on deaf leadership for deaf people living throughout the country.

“This program is in line with the goals of the WFD which are to enhance the capacity and human rights knowledge of the global Deaf Communities so that they are empowered to engage and exert influence, and effect changes in their countries. Human rights of deaf people starts with recognising the cultural and linguistic aspects of the Deaf Community through sign language.

As a deaf-led organisation with strong and relevant experience, DDW is ideally positioned to operationalise this program, ensuring that the trainings are fully accessible to the Deaf Community. This is truly ‘Nothing About Us, Without Us’ in practice,” stated the WFD President, Colin Allen.

According to the Deaf People and Human Rights Report published by the WFD in 2009, at least 90 percent of deaf people in developing countries receive no formal education. The Social Inclusion for the deaf program strives to provide deaf Dominicans with the training they need to reduce this statistic, and strengthen the capacity of the Deaf Community throughout the Dominican Republic’s 32 provinces.

For more information about this program, please contact Discovering Deaf Worlds Program Director History Estill-Varner at, or visit  



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The press release is also available in both English and Spanish at our Resources page here.