On March 23, 2008, Newstalk FM featured IDK in its Change-Makers series. Note: Caroline has since had two cochlear implants, which make her speech clearer now.
Newstalk’s Louise Williams spoke with the founder of IDK, Caroline Carswell.
Here is the full conversation.
C: Caroline Carswell and L: Louise Williams
L: ‘In your family are you the only deaf person or are there other deaf people in your family?’
C: ‘It was out of the blue, there’s no history of deafness in the family. I think my parents had some big choices to make.’
L: ‘Now you told me earlier, I was noticing that your eyes are different colours – one is blue and one is green?’
C: ‘Yes, it’s often commented on.’
L: ‘It’s very pretty, it makes you look twice into your eyes (laughs) … so, irishdeafkids.ie – what use would it be to people?’
C: ‘It will be a resource centre for the parents and teachers of deaf children in Ireland to find advice about educating deaf children in the mainstream.’
L: ‘And what sort of questions would Irish teachers and parents of deaf children – what sort of questions would they have?’
C: ‘Well, deaf education has changed in recent years, in Ireland it has moved into the mainstream.
So the parents and teachers have to take more responsibility for the children in their care, and because of that, they need more information.’
L: ‘Can you give me some examples of the questions that people would have?’
Whereas for the teachers – some of whom may never have had a deaf child in their care before – they might know nothing until they have a child in their care, they really might be starting from scratch.’
L: ‘And starting from scratch – the biggest challenge is going to be communication?’
C: ‘Yes, yes, they have to look to the internet, read around the subject and right now there’s no Irish specific website with this information.’
L: ‘Now where did you get this idea for irishdeafkids.ie?’
C: ‘It has evolved through a few years – I did some work mentoring deaf students at my secondary school, and I found they really needed more encouragement in their studies.
I realised also that the teachers were not always aware how to help with specific issues which I may have gone through in my time, so it was great to be able to give that back.’
L: ‘You lip read?’
C: ‘Yes, I have done from a very early age.’
L: ‘So we’re sitting here directly opposite each other so that you can read my lips when I ask you a question.’
C: ‘You can lip read from a distance, probably the ideal distance would be 5 to 10 metres.’
L: ‘And do you sign also?’
C: ‘No, I never learned to sign. But I had speech therapy from a very early age so I use that to communicate and it has given me so many opportunities, I am very grateful.’
L: ‘Were there specific issues in your education, that you experienced, that you wanted to help other deaf children with, and parents and teachers?’
C: ‘Yes, I would say self belief is important because there will always be people who don’t believe in you or your abilities.
If you believe you can do it, that’s a huge part of it. And sometimes you just have to ignore other people and do what you feel is right.’
L: ‘And you learnt that at a very young age, to be quite feisty and I know that’s something that you’ve continued to be in your professional life as well, you’re known as being quite feisty (laughs)’
C: ‘Yes, very much so, yes. I have a digital marketing and publishing background.
And when I trained in the jobs that I’ve done, I did encounter some doubters, but in the end everything came right and a few people have actually apologised for not believing me in the first place.’
L: ‘And would you like to work full-time on Irish Deaf Kids?’
C: ‘Given the opportunity, yes I would.’
L: ‘Do you think that will happen in the future?’
C: ‘Who knows? I am an entrepreneur because the outcome of this project is not known. But if we don’t try, we won’t know.’
Note 2: Caroline needed this transcript to see what was broadcast.