Haiti MDP Field Exp team update from Hannah Bohn

From MDP student Hannah Bohn:   

"Over the summer, I worked on a team of three MDP students in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Our client, Haiti Deaf Academy (HDA), has received funding for a five-year project to document Haitian Sign Language (LSH) and professionalize sign language interpretation. While Haitian law requires public services to provide or pay for interpretation for Deaf individuals, this law is not well enforced and interpreters may not be available or accurate. While this is due, in part, to minimal formalized interpretation training, it is further compounded by the lack of a “standard” Haitian Sign Language.

HDA’s project to document LSH and establish a formal interpreter training program confronts several aspects of the Deaf community’s equal access to communication. They aim to produce a dictionary of documented signs, establish a nationally certified interpreter training program, and sensitize public service providers to the rights and needs of Deaf clients.

The goal of our MDP field experience team was to conduct a situation analysis to help our client better understand the baseline access of Deaf individuals to interpretation services and interpreters’ experiences with public service providers, as well as to design a monitoring and evaluation plan. Throughout June and July, we processed and analyzed survey data, conducted interviews with Deaf and Hearing Haitians, created logic models and evaluation plans, and developed project management tools for our client.

One of the key takeaways of the MDP field experience was the value of stakeholder inclusion and support. When we began the project, our client was experiencing some tension with key local stakeholders because they are in the midst of their own documentation project -a fact of which our client was not aware until after the grant was awarded. These stakeholders felt excluded from a process to which they were intrinsically bound as leaders in the Haitian Deaf community, and betrayed by the direction of funding to an international (rather than local) grantee. As we supported our client’s project management, we encouraged reconciliation of this tension, and acknowledgment of local ownership over the documentation and dictionary. By the end of July, our client had effectively eased tensions and established a partnership with these stakeholders to return ownership of this aspect of the project to them. It was incredibly rewarding to have been included in this relationship building and realize the necessity and value of stakeholder inclusion.

Pictured: Amal Warsame (MDP ’18), Dr. Randi Nelson, Hannah Bohn (MDP ’18), and Jennifer Compton (MDP ’18) at Haiti Communitere, our accommodations and workspace"
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