The Power of Partnerships
It’s Wednesday night, and 10 faces appear on the screen as a team of researchers, medical doctors, and advocates log on to Zoom for their weekly meeting. The team, which represents two universities—one in the United States, the other in the Dominican Republic—and their nonprofit partners, greets their colleagues, eager to discuss the agenda for the evening. With both hearing and deaf individuals on the call from the two countries, interpreters provide seamless communication between English, Spanish, American Sign Language, and Dominican Sign Language.
The Wednesday evening Zoom calls are the latest iteration of a partnership that stretches back almost 2 decades. In 2017, the University of Rochester and the Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM) began to build on their existing partnership by collaborating with two nonprofits: Deaf Worlds, a U.S.-based international deaf advocacy organization, and the National Deaf Association (Asociación Nacional de Sordos de la República Dominicana [ANSORDO]) in the Dominican Republic.
The new project focuses on health disparities and outcomes related to language acquisition and deprivation in the deaf community in the Dominican Republic, and it evolved from relationships built by Timothy Dye, PhD, an obstetrics and gynecology professor at Rochester, who conducted research in Latin and Central America in the early 2000s. The two nonprofits have been instrumental in connecting the research team with deaf Dominicans.
Dye says a vital aspect of the project is a strong personal commitment to the success of each individual on the team. “We trust one another