Exclusive Interview With Pablo Lemuel Taveras Cueto
Today we’d like to introduce you to Pablo Lemuel Taveras Cueto.
It’s an honor to speak with you today. Why don’t you give us some details about you and your story. How did you get to where you are today?
My name is Pablo Taveras. I was born profoundly Deaf. I am the second of four children, and one of my sisters is also Deaf. I was born and raised in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. I would say that my story revolves around the central themes of language and communication. As a Deaf person, developing language and breaking communication barriers with the larger hearing society can prove difficult. The first school I attended was an oral school. They prohibited the use of Sign Language and forced us to rely on speech and lipreading to communicate. When I was 5 years old, my parents realized that I wasn’t happy and that I wasn’t developing language. They started looking for alternatives and found a Deaf school that allowed us to learn and use Sign Language. It was then that I finally acquired language and began to learn. I stayed at that Deaf school all the way through high school. While I was in high school, I had the opportunity to attend an international camp for young Deaf leaders in Norway. This camp had a huge impact on my life and opened my eyes to what the Deaf world really is. It inspired me to become a leader in my community. In 2016, I became the vice president of the National Association of the Deaf of the Dominican Republic (ANSORDO), and eventually became the president in 2019 after the president at that time stepped down.
I’m sure your success has not come easily. What challenges have you had to overcome along the way?
Being a Deaf person in a hearing world is challenging, in and of itself. Just doing day to day activities that hearing people take for granted like going to the bank or the grocery store have their challenges. I have had to learn and develop many strategies in order to navigate the hearing world, but it can prove exhausting and frustrating nonetheless. Here in the Dominican Republic, there are very few qualified Sign Language interpreters, and we have to pay for their services out of pocket. If we want to go to college, we have to find, coordinate, and pay our own interpreters. With the help of my family, I was able to hire an interpreter and go to college. I majored in advertising and graduated in 2018. That experience was truly challenging. After growing up in a school surrounded by other Deaf people, I had to adapt to being surrounded by hearing people and to proving to my hearing teachers that Deaf people can do anything.
Let’s talk about the work you do. What do you specialize in and why should someone work with you over the competition?
I have had many jobs over the last few years. I have been a Sign Language teacher and am an actor. I currently work as a translator in the Dominican Bible Society translating the Bible into Dominican Sign Language. I am also a consultant for the first official Dominican Sign Language dictionary. I am the president of the National Association of the Deaf in the Dominican Republic. Being the president of the National Association implies being a constant advocate for Deaf rights and access. I coordinate and attend many meetings with government officials and institutions. We are working on many projects including a research investigation about Deaf experiences, a census of the Deaf population in the country, a bill that would officially recognize Dominican Sign Language as the native language of Deaf people, among many others. In everything that I do, I always seek to be professional and charismatic. I am extremely hard working. Working so many jobs while also being the president of the National Association means I work from sun up to sun down every day. I never turn down an opportunity to continue learning and improving myself.
What’s your best piece of advice for readers who desire to find success in their life?
The most important thing is to find what you love, what you enjoy, what makes you happy, and pursue that. Don’t let anyone force you into a box. Follow you dreams, no matter how hard it can be. If you do what you love, you are succeeding every day. Also, don’t let anyone define “success” for you. You decide what your definition of success is. Maybe for you that is starting your own business, working for a company, working for a non-profit, being a stay at home parent, or whatever it might be. Only you can define whether or not you are successful.
Speaking of success, what does the word mean to you?
Success for me is reaching your goals and having a life full of love. There are a lot of economically rich and powerful people in the world who aren’t happy. It’s much more important to be rich in love, relationships, and experiences. I think being successful also means sharing your success with others. If you have an opportunity to help, teach, serve, or share, do it. Playing a part in helping other people find their success is an important part of being truly successful.
What’s next for you?
What’s next for me is really continuing to do what I’m doing now. I will continue advocating for the Deaf community, our rights, and our accessibility in the Dominican Republic in every way that I can. I want to continue being a leader in my community and also apply everything that we are achieving in the capital city to the other provinces where opportunities are much more limited. I am also planning to create my own interpreting agency because in the Dominican Republic there are very few interpreting agencies, and none of them are Deaf-owned. I also want to continue my studies, get a Master’s and eventually a PhD. I want to show my country that Deaf people can do anything! As a filmmaker, I also eventually want to make a documentary about the history of the Deaf community in the Dominican Republic, our collective experiences, our success stories, our struggles, etc.
Finally, how can people connect with you if they want to learn more?
You can connect and contact me in many ways. Whether it’s through social media or through email feel free to message me because I would love to talk.
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Instagram – lolatpablo
Twitter – @lolatpablo
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/lolatpablo/
SnapChat – lolatpablo