“The Anne Sullivan Macy Medal was first awarded in 1966 by Perkins in partnership with The Industrial Home for the Blind in Brooklyn, New York to recognize ‘the daily, tireless effort that goes into the teaching of a deafblind child during both school and after-school hours.’ Past recipients include parents, teachers and caregivers as well as foundations and public figures who have worked to break down barriers facing people who are deafblind.”
Perkins International website
The last day of the Deafblind International Network of the Americas Conference in Cape Cod found us celebrating in a room full of educators, parents, deafblind individuals, and other leaders in the deafblind world. Most in attendance truly knew this unique, hard, complicated, often misunderstood, and incredible work. For those of us who are a part of the deafblind world in any significant way, our appreciation of our leaders, the “movers and shakers” is considerable. As we sat in this room, applauding those receiving awards for their contributions in the field, Theresa and I kept saying to each other, “I wish Carolyn was getting an award.” Not that she needed it, not that there weren’t others deserving, but when you know her for any period of time, her passion and dedication to the children, individuals, and families is almost tangible. She has given so much to her students at George Brown College, teaching us more than any other program in the world about congenital deafblindness and intervention. To say that she is a foundational leader in the Canadian deafblind Intervenor world is not an exaggeration. For many years, Carolyn has also dedicated much of her time, effort and knowledge to the work and support that is offered by the Canadian Deafblind Association. As president, Carolyn has led in supporting the four CDBA provincial chapters to ensure that “All people who are deafblind will live rich meaningful lives.” She works diligently to ensure all four provincial chapters promote awareness and education of deafblindness and Intervention. Carolyn is also an integral member of Deafblind International, allowing the work of CDBA National to be recognized internationally. So much has been accomplished under Carolyn’s leadership. She truly deserves recognition for the wonderful work and wisdom she imparts on so many.
What Theresa and I hoped for as we sat there was not only for others to recognize Carolyn, but for her to receive tangible acknowledgement of the gratitude and honour she deserves. After three others had received awards, Michael Delaney, the director of Perkins International, started to talk about a woman who founded the deafblind program at George Brown College and was the director of the National Canadian Deafblind Association. I whipped out my phone to record the moment and as we watched Carolyn a few tables over realize who he was talking about, she covered her face in disbelief. Theresa and I started to tear up and we felt overwhelmingly proud of her. Once she was up on stage she could barely speak she was so emotional. She, like all the award recipients, were stunned speechless in receiving such high recognition. After the ceremony was over, many people from around the world came up to congratulate her; us Canadians could barely get in to hug her!
Carolyn more than deserves the honour of one of the highest awards this field has to offer. The ripple effect of her tireless advocacy, teaching, and work on a national and international level cannot be measured. Congratulations Carolyn!