12 remarkable people recognized for redefining perceptions in the hearing loss community
Oticon, Inc. announced the winners of the 2021 Oticon Focus on People Awards, a program dedicated to honoring exceptional individuals with hearing loss as well as hearing care practitioners who are making an impact in the hearing loss community. During November and December, supporters cast more than 15,000 votes to determine the first, second and third place winners in the Student, Adult, Advocacy and Practitioner categories.
The 2021 first place winners in each category are:
Student: lauren king of chester, virginia dreamed of skating in the olympics since she was a young girl. when she overheard a coach remark that a girl with hearing loss could never make it to the u.s. national competitions, she was determined to show she could do that and so much more. she competed in the 2015, 2016 and 2017 u.s. figure skating association (usfsa) national solo dance series championships, and in 2017, she placed fourth in the country. now a college sophomore, lauren continues to succeed on the ice and in the classroom. she’s a dedicated volunteer for the hearing loss association of america and a mentor for incoming students at her college, working hard to ensure that others can succeed as well.
Adult: Destiny Lopez of Waterbury, Connecticut is a multimedia storyteller and creative strategist who is passionate about creating accessible and inclusive media that amplifies the voices of marginalized communities. Her award-winning global research on media accessibility proposes three ways to make film, television and live theater more accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing community. Destiny’s op-eds and research have been featured in many publications, including Teen Vogue, Bustle and I-D Magazine. Through her advocacy and involvement in communities like the NYU Center for Disability Studies, Destiny continues to spark conversations on inaccessibility and to encourage allies to join the fight for a more inclusive society.
Advocacy: Sarah Klegman of Sherman Oaks, Californiais a storyteller, public speaker and writer who shares her journey with hearing aids with openness, authenticity and humor. Through talks at festivals and by writing for international publications, she joyfully fights hearing aid stigma while inspiring people to accept and even celebrate their own hearing journey. Sarah hosted the series “What’s Wrong With You?” on the Awkward Human Podcast Network, and co-founded the bread company and social forum, Challah Hub. Today Sarah serves as Chief Happiness Officer for a tech startup. In all she does, Sarah strives to help others feel confident with their hearing aids – a cause that is “deeply close to her heart - and ears!”
Practitioner: Ricardo Gauthier, Au.D. of Punta Gorda, Floridahas spent more than 20 years in the field of audiology, including 13 years in private practice, and has a steadfast passion for “seeing every patient as an individual who deserves the best care possible.” That commitment to quality care is at the core of his efforts to bring much needed hearing healthcare to children in Haiti. Dr. Gauthier, who is fluent in Haitian Creole, has been passionately involved in Hope of Hearing Haiti since 2001. Through the nonprofit organization, he joins other volunteer audiologists and speech language pathologists to provide free audiological care for approximately 300-400 deaf and hard-of-hearing children each year.
"This year's Focus on People's Awards showcased outstanding individuals whose passion for helping people with hearing loss has changed countless lives across the globe," said Nancy Palmere, Director of Consumer Marketing and PR for Oticon. "It is our hope that their stories inspire others to make a difference in their own communities as well. The 2021 Oticon Focus on People winners and finalists are changing perceptions of hearing loss and in doing so, are spreading inclusivity and awareness in their communities and beyond."
Established in 1997, the national Oticon Focus on People Awards program has honored more than 300 outstanding individuals throughout the United States.
This year’s second and third place winners are:
Student — Demii Wright of Madison, Wisconsin; Hunter Martin of Illiopolis, Illinois
Adult — Trip Neil of Dallas, Texas; Thomas Withrow of Austin, Texas
Advocacy — Meryl Evans of Plano, Texas; Paul Wichansky of Freehold, New Jersey
Practitioner — Kamal Elliot, Au.D. of Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Phallon Doss, Au.D. of Shertz, Texas
Award winners were recognized during the OticonNext Launch Meeting. First place winners in the Student, Adult and Advocacy categories each receive a new pair of Oticon hearing aids, and first place winners in each of the categories receive a donation to the charity of their choice. All 12 finalists receive a cash prize and a certificate of recognition from Oticon.
To read all of the Oticon Focus on People Awards 1st place winners’ stories, visit www.Oticon.com/FOP.
Official acceptance videos from each of the 2021 Oticon Focus on People Award winners are available here.
Oticon, Inc. – Life-Changing Technology
Oticon is one of the world’s most innovative hearing device manufacturers, with more than 110 years’ experience in the design and development of hearing aids for adults and children. Our comprehensive portfolio of life-changing technology improves not only the quality of hearing but the overall quality of life for people with hearing loss. Oticon challenges conventions and pushes the limits of technology to bring to market hearing solutions that exceed the needs and expectations of people with hearing loss, so that they can live their lives without limit. Our groundbreaking BrainHearing™ technology is helping to provide better hearing with less effort by giving the brain the clearest, purest sound signals to decode. For more information visit www.oticon.com.