The Office of International Affairs of the Gallaudet University congratulated Filipino Deaf community leader Raphael Vergel de Dios Domingo for being the first doctorate degree recipient of the Nippon-Gallaudet World Deaf Leadership (WDL) Program.
Domingo earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics at the Gallaudet University, a private federally chartered research university in Washington DC dedicated for the education of the Deaf and hard of hearing.
The WDL Program, funded by the Nippon Foundation of Tokyo, aims to empower selected individuals with the knowledge, skills, and aspirations to contribute significantly to the Deaf community and the nation.
As the current Head of Deaf Heritage and Filipino Sign Language Studies Unit of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde’s Center for Education and Advancement of the Deaf (CEAD), Domingo will pursue further research on Filipino Sign Language. They are a co-founder of the Philippine Federation of the Deaf Inc., which continues to champion Deaf education and human rights.
“Language and communication issues are common stumbling blocks for Deaf Filipinos in Deaf Education,” the advocate stated. “I know that there is still much work to be done, but I can see some progress in Deaf education and Filipino Sign Language. I hope that the government would enforce mandatory education for all students, regardless of socioeconomic background or handicap status.”
“I’ve always tried to disprove stereotypes about Deaf Filipinos. Deaf education and Filipino Sign Language would improve the Deaf community’s quality of life and become productive and self-sufficient members of society.”
Domingo, who identifies as non-binary and uses the pronoun “siya”, is equipped with a Certificate in Bookkeeping and a Bachelor in Applied Deaf Studies from Benilde School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies (SDEAS). They likewise possess a Master of Arts in International Affairs with a Major in Comparative International Disability degree from the American University, Washington DC.
The scholar advised Deaf Filipinos to never let the linguistic barriers be a hindrance in pursuing graduate studies.
“I applied for the Gallaudet-Nippon World Deaf Leadership Scholarship program twice but failed both times,” Domingo shared. “My PhD journey was arduous because the linguistic jargons and academic American Sign Language were too much for me. Gallaudet University provided peer tutors as one of its support systems. My mentor and professors also provided me with valuable support, such as consultation sessions. I didn’t want to stay idle throughout my scholarship term. It motivated me to finish my courses on time.”
Domingo likewise reminded the Deaf students that many international students, whether hearing or Deaf, struggle with academic writing. They encouraged learners to specifically request for support systems when needed and to always take advantage of the diverse opportunities available.