Friday, 7 August 2020

Successful Karla Curin: Deaf Student Who "Doesn't Hear" Discrimination

August 7, 2020 – Karla Curin is a Faculty of Graphic Arts student in Zagreb, one of the recent speakers at the Tedx in Koprivnica, and creator of a prototype for an application that helps youth with depression.

„You were just born under a lucky star.“

This sentence follows a 23-year-old student whose path was slightly different. Karla is deaf from birth, but she can hear with a hearing aid and understands people through lip reading. That didn't stop her from expressing herself in the way she wanted. From the very beginning, Karla was a child with a vivid imagination, who loved to draw and make new creations. Although she wanted to become a doctor and was into science, a creative side prevailed.

At the age of 14, Karla enrolled at the School of Applied Arts and Design, where she worked on metal design. Just a year before high school graduation, fashion design came to mind and didn't let her be at peace. But it was too late, the Faculty of Textile Technology waited. "In my final year of undergraduate study, a crisis arose again: I knew what I didn’t want, and I didn’t know what I wanted. I needed and wanted something more, stronger, more challenging, and I discovered that graphic design was calling," said Karla, who was often called indecisive. Her mother was, and still is, her biggest support.

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High school days

As Karla highlights, crises sometimes occur, so her mother is there to remind Karla who she is and that it is normal to be 'down' sometimes. "When I was preparing for an entrance examination at the Faculty of Graphic Arts, I was afraid of competition, wasn't satisfied with my work, and constantly asking myself 'what if?'" But her mother showed Karla she believes in her. "And she didn't make a mistake," said Karla proudly.

When Karla mastered fashion design, she enrolled in graduate school at the Faculty of Graphic Arts, where she heard about UX/UI design, and that was finally what she wanted. “I felt that all my passion was where it needed to be, in the right place." A passion made of science and art, just like she dreamed about it once as a child.

Karla is currently working on her master thesis, and as she said, a decision about the topic was clear from the beginning. The SUVAG polyclinic is a health institution where specialists-consultants provide health care for people with speech difficulties. But the irony is that its website is outdated, inaccessible to people with disabilities. "As a deaf person, I can’t order a hearing test on my own, which isn’t just a problem for me," said Karla, whose master thesis is about improving the accessibility of SUVAG's website with the help of redesign.

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Promotion at TTF, Bachelor of Fashion and Textile Designer

As everyone, Karla would like to work in her profession. Her volunteering experiences filled out her CV and gave her wind in her back. After a year of volunteering in the eSTUDENT association, as a part of Visual communications, she worked on several projects simultaneously, participated in workshops and events organized by the eSTUDENT. Besides that, while studying textile and fashion design, she volunteered at URIHO as a versatile designer with an emphasis on fashion design. She got there through the competition 'Iskustvo zlata vrijedi', and it was a springboard for her. As a freelancer, she also designed visuals for the newly opened trade "Simply Design", and for FER's project "DroneDays," she designed graphic and web visuals.

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URIHO, bag design

After Jutarnji List opened the competition "Student Digi Award 2020," selecting the best Croatian young innovators, versatile Karla didn't think twice about the application. She wrote down every idea that came to her mind, but one was strongly pointing out. Aware of depressed young people, and unfortunately, also inspired by a tragic event of a friend, Karla created a prototype that helps people struggling with depression, anxiety, and dark thoughts. "It does not change the psychologist, but encourages conversation, connects people with similar problems, and monitors moods on a weekly, monthly, and even annual basis," said Karla. She understands that most young people today live on mobile devices, so the idea was to help them acceptably, through communication and technology that they understand. She hopes that her "Oaza" (Oasis) application would help depressed people, with no one to talk to.

After she was secretly daydreaming of appearing on a TEDx to tell people her story on the red carpet, her dreams came to life. "I was so excited and scared at the same time. But, as I have a fear of talking in front of people, I decided to see that as an opportunity to beat that fear," said Karla, whose first Tedx was recently in Koprivnica. She was supposed to tell people about her life, but she also wanted to convey her light motive: Your life will be what your thoughts are - a lot of hard work included. "I wanted to show people with a disability through my example that they can limit them, but they cannot prevent them from realizing their dreams," said Karla.