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2020 Focus on
People Awards

Advocacy category

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Sherry Ball

Fall Branch, TN

As co-founder of the nonprofit Waiting to Hear, Sherry aims to bring the gift of sound to children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Waiting to Hear began as an idea inspired by her daughter’s journey from hearing loss diagnosis to cochlear implant surgery. Today, the thriving nonprofit provides a variety of awareness and support programs for children with hearing loss and their families. Waiting to Hear offers a free Pediatric Mobile Hearing Screening Clinic and hosts an annual summer camp for children with hearing loss, their siblings and parents. The group’s Hearing Aid Bank loans hearing aids free of charge to children awaiting cochlear implant surgery or insurance approval of their own hearing aids.

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Jerry Bergman

New York, NY

Jerry is an advocate extraordinaire, working on the personal and policy levels. Daily, Jerry can be found behind his computer helping others to better understand their hearing loss and make informed decisions. A dedicated member of the Hearing Loss Association of America and former president of its NY State Association, Jerry also works to foster changes in public policy to make hearing loss better understood and venues more accessible. Thanks in large part to his persistence, New York City now requires City-funded major construction and renovation projects to include hearing loops at information/security and public meeting areas. Jerry was also part of the team that helped to bring closed captioning to Broadway theaters.

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Dylan Rafaty

Plano, TX

Dylan is a navigator, influencer, and disability rights advocate committed to serving all people with hearing loss and others in the cross-disability community. Dylan started DylanListed, a transition support services provider, and works for C-Hear, Inc. as the Head of Accessibility Strategy & Partnerships, a company that developed a way to make images accessible and heard. His book, Occupy Special Education – Children Should Be Seen and Heard, encourages students with disabilities to speak up about their educational needs. Dylan serves on many executive boards, including the Texas Governor’s Committee for People with Disabilities. In 2020, Dylan was inducted into the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame.

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