Oticon Names Winners of the 25th Annual Oticon Focus on People Awards

29 February 2024

12 exceptional individuals recognized for making a difference for people with hearing loss

Oticon, Inc. announced the winners of the 2023 Oticon Focus on People Awards, a national awards program celebrating outstanding advocates, hearing care professionals and everyday heroes who make a positive impact on the hearing loss community. Supporters from around the world cast more than 14,000 votes in fall 2023 to determine this year’s winners in four categories.

The 2023 first place winners are:

● Student Standout: Yaduraj Choudhary of Downingtown, Pennsylvania is an inspirational young leader working to bring hearing loss education into the mainstream. As a high school senior, he founded 3 Tiny Bones, a nonprofit focused on destigmatizing hearing loss and educating people on healthy hearing. In addition, he partnered with his local school district to create Safe Hearing Zones at elementary, middle and high schools that protect students' hearing at events. Now, as a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, Yaduraj is working with state legislators to help advance bills for hearing health education and sign language.

● Adult Trailblazer: Abby Silbaugh of Chicago, Illinois doesn’t let hearing loss stop her from achieving her dreams. Abby is working to achieve her PhD in neurobiology at the University of Chicago. Despite her demanding academic schedule, she spends hundreds of hours each year tutoring inner-city children receiving long-term care in local hospitals and volunteering at the University of Chicago's Ear, Nose and Throat and Neurosurgery departments doing clinical work and participating in disability and inclusion initiatives.

● Hearing Loss Champion: Latisha Porter-Vaughn, PhD, of Newark, New Jersey is the first African American President of the Hearing Loss Association of America's New Jersey Chapter and is described as “a dynamite advocate and inspiration for people with hearing loss.” A paralegal at Seton Hall University's Center for Social Justice, she's authored books providing guidance to people with hearing loss. As a researcher for the National Deaf Center, Latisha contributes to literature that will help improve education and employment outcomes for deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

● Heroic Hearing Care Professional: Michelle Hu, AuD, of La Jolla, California uses her personal experience with hearing loss and as a bilateral cochlear implant recipient to empower and uplift families with children who have hearing challenges. Through her Facebook and Instagram account Mama Hu Hears, she has created a supportive space for people with hearing loss to spread awareness, cultivate relationships, and inspire one another.

“This year’s Focus on People Awards winners join a 25-year legacy and an incredible community of people who are expanding possibilities and redefining what the future holds for people with hearing loss,” said Jacob Torpe Winter, Vice President of Marketing for Oticon, Inc. “Through their work promoting accessibility, inclusion and empowerment, these individuals are setting the stage for the next era of breakthroughs in the hearing loss community.”

This year’s second and third place winners are:

Student Standouts — Ryan Fuller of Eureka, Illinois; Alana Douglas of Denton, Texas
Adult Trailblazers — Zaineb Abdulla of Chicago, Illinois; Kathleen Dugan of Lunenburg, Massachusetts
Hearing Loss Champions — Emily Truell of Montello, Wisconsin; Brett Bachmann of Louisville, Kentucky
Heroic Hearing Care Professionals — Chandace Jeep, AuD, of Durango, Colorado; Roni Dinkes, AuD, of Millersville, Maryland

First place winners were recognized at the OticonNext Conference, a gathering of hearing care professionals from around the country. As part of the event, all hearing care professionals in attendance were recognized with an Everyday Hero Award to highlight their commitment as champions for people with hearing loss and for hearing health care.

First place winners received a $2,500 prize and $1,000 donation to the charity of their choice. In addition, eligible first-place winners with hearing loss in the Student Standouts, Adult Trailblazers and Hearing Loss Champions categories received a pair of Oticon hearing aids. Second- and third-place winners also received a cash prize.

Established in 1997, the Oticon Focus on People Awards program has honored more than 300 outstanding individuals throughout the United States.

Photos and videos from each of the 2023 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 115 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 Oticon.com.

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Denise DiMeglio
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