Dr. Maribel Gárate-Estes, a professor of Education at Gallaudet University, spent the fall 2023 semester in Mexico researching bilingual teaching strategies to allocate a signed and a written/spoken language with deaf students. She also collaborated with the Department of Education (Secretaría de Educación Pública) and the Instituto Pedagógico para Problemas del Lenguaje, I.A.P. on curriculum and program development to benefit current and future teachers of deaf-signing students.

Gárate-Estes was selected as a Fulbright U.S. Scholar to México in March of 2023. She was notified of this prestigious award by Donna Brazile, chair of the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. Brazile said Gárate’s Fulbright award, “is a reflection of her leadership and contributions to society.” 

As part of her sabbatical proposal to carry out a research study, Gárate-Estes recruited teacher participants from three bilingual schools in Mexico City (one private school and two public schools), completing 12 classroom observations and 15 participant interviews to collect examples of bilingual teaching strategies used to allocate the signed and written/spoken language at bilingual deaf schools in Mexico. Edited video clips and results from the study will be shared with the Department of Education and participating school directors to aid in the examination of their own practices, and as part of the ongoing professional development efforts to prepare more special education teachers to work with bilingual deaf students.  

Gárate-Estes received two seed fund grants from Gallaudet’s World Wings International Endowed Research Gifts, which were instrumental in supporting her research. 

Aside from focusing on her research and fulfilling her duties as a Fulbright Scholar, Gárate-Estes set out to give back to the Mexican Deaf community by working closely with school teachers, providing modeling, feedback, and day-to-day instructional support. She led two in-service trainings during monthly professional development days and presented to families during the National Day of the Deaf celebration. She volunteered for their first-ever retreat for Deaf Youth and their families, and at the annual “Listen Deeply” race, a fundraiser organized to fund bilingual education.

As a Fulbright recipient, Garate-Estes had the opportunity to meet with the public affairs counselor of diplomacy at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico and discuss binational collaborations to enhance training for teachers working with deaf students. She worked directly with Nayely Caldera from the Department of Education, who oversees all programs that serve deaf students nationwide, as well as the Special Education and Inclusive Education Unit, which focuses on accessibility services for deaf students in inclusion settings, to discuss the creation of a specialization in deaf education, which currently does not exist in the Mexican higher education system.

Three women stand next to a long poster with words in Spanish.
Presenters at the special education training series in Mérida, Yucatan included (from left) Mercedes Obregón, director of IPPLIAP, Gárate-Estes, and Maria del Carmen Pamplona, speech language pathologist.

Gárate-Estes was invited to lead a three-day workshop on the importance of early language stimulation and the strategies teachers can use with their students, classroom teachers, and parents. The training was hosted by the Department of Special Education in Mérida and designed for itinerant and early childhood education teachers working with deaf students in inclusion settings. 

Beginning in 1958 when Elizabeth Van Luven, a professor of education at Gallaudet, won a Fulbright Scholar grant to Pakistan’s Training College for Teachers of the Deaf, the University has built a strong track record in students and faculty who have been awarded Fulbrights to further their studies or conduct research. Fulbright awards are made possible through funds appropriated annually by the U.S. Congress and, in many cases, by contributions from partner countries and private parties. The Fulbright Program is devoted to increasing mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Fulbright is the world’s largest and most diverse international educational exchange program. 

For more information about available awards and programs, visit

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