Carla Anderson, Director – Centre of Excellence Deafblind at Able Australia joins the Lifetime Achievement Honour Roll as part of the 2019 Victorian Disability Award.
This award is one in a long list of accolades Carla has received over her career spanning close to 40 years. Carla is a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to people who are deafblind, has a Lifetime Achievement Award from Deafblind International and is now recognised for similar service by the Victorian community. Carla Anderson is also profoundly deaf and uses Auslan to communicate.
For over 40 years, Carla has developed countless programs and services to ensure those who are deafblind can live rich, independent lives, and feel included and empowered within the broader community. Deafblind advocacy groups run by and for people with deafblindness are a testament of Carla’s work. These include Deafblind Australia and Deafblind Victoria.
“Deafblindness can be an incredibly isolating condition,” says Kate MacRae, Able Australia CEO. “Having neither vision nor sight, those who are deafblind can often find themselves having their intellectual capacity judged and their ability to contribute to the community, overlooked. Carla has always sought to empower members of the deafblind community and challenged them to access information, make informed decisions for themselves and independently participate in community life.”
Carla began working with the deafblind community in the USA where she was born and raised. There Carla worked for DCARA – Deaf Counselling Advocacy and Referral Agency. This passion for the deafblind community continued when Carla migrated to Australia. Through the 1980’s and 1990’s Carla undertook advocacy work on behalf of the deafblind community and personal development training for those who were deafblind while working for VicDeaf (now known as Expression).
After leaving VicDeaf, Carla joined Able Australia in 2001. At that time, much of the sector had a ‘welfare focus’ when it came to those with deafblindness.
Carla quickly gained the respect of Able Australia’s deafblind community by showing them that they could take control of their lives. Carla has travelled the world to see what other deafblind communities were doing and used this knowledge to inform the services and supports developed by Able Australia.
“Able Australia is so proud to see Carla’s work with the Deafblind Community being recognised,” says Kate MacRae. “She has seemingly boundless energy and a deep passion for her work. Carla is an icon of the deafblind community.”