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Perkins ELP Alum achieves systemic change in Chile

Thanks to the leadership of Perkins Educational Leadership Program (ELP) alumna Carolyn Sanchez, a law that recognizes deafblindness as a unique disability and promotes full inclusion of deafblind persons entered into force on January 3, 2022 in Chile.

Alondra, a visually impaired girl, holds her face as she looks at the camera

Thanks to the leadership of Perkins Educational Leadership Program (ELP) alumna Carolyn Sanchez, a law that recognizes deafblindness as a unique disability and promotes full inclusion of deafblind persons entered into force on January 3, 2022 in Chile. 

Carolyn Sanchez came to Perkins as part of the 2008 ELP class and soon after returning home she assumed a leadership position as Executive Director of CIDEVI, a leading non-profit in Chile that promotes the inclusion of deafblind and visually impaired people. But at Perkins Carolyn also got the inspiration to fight for systemic change. In 2008 Carolyn started giving seminars, protesting on the streets, and talking on the radio to raise awareness about the need to fully include deafblind and visually impaired people in society.

Visual impaired boy holds a protest sign in Chile.

Carolyn not only worked with Chilean organizations, but also had advice from partners in other Latin American countries.

“At Perkins, I learned that building partnerships with other organizations is key to igniting change.”

Carolyn Sanchez, Perkins ELP Alumna

In 2019, after years in the fight, Carolyn secured the sponsorship of a congressman who presented a bill recognizing deafblindness as a unique disability and promoting full inclusion of deafblind persons. Carolyn defended the proposal before Congress. The document was approved unanimously by both chambers of Congress. After the approval and signature by the Chilean president, the law N21.403 entered into force on January 3, 2022.

This is a testament of how long-term commitments can yield results. And shows how the ELPs can truly ignite change.

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