16 October 2018
Thirteen exceptional individuals recognized for challenging hearing loss perceptions
Oticon, Inc. announced the winners of the 20th Annual Oticon Focus on People Awards, a program dedicated to honoring individuals with hearing loss as well as hearing care professionals who open new possibilities for the hearing impaired community. People across the U.S. cast a record-breaking 10,000 votes to determine the first, second, and third place winners in the Student, Practitioner, Advocacy, and Adult categories.
The 2018 first place winners are:
- Celine Yang of Belmont, California is a high school senior who, after penning a series of articles about her hearing loss that sparked conversation among peers, turned to advocating for sustainability. She became an environmental education intern at her city’s waste facility and implemented a school-wide tri-bin waste system that won her an invitation to present her work at a premiere sustainability conference.
- Jamie McClintic of Alpena, Michigan was diagnosed with profound hearing loss at three years old and struggled throughout her childhood to find other young people like her. Envisioning a better childhood for today’s youth, Jamie works to destigmatize all disabilities by advocating for inclusive imagery in media and advertising. She has helped families and children process hearing loss diagnoses for almost 20 years.
- Clare Wolf, Rubicon of Wisconsin is a full-time firefighter and an emergency medical technician who doesn’t let her late-diagnosed hearing loss stop her from saving lives. By wearing hearing aids, Clare continues this vital work, which requires distinguishing between crucial sounds, such as a baby’s cry and burning, crackling wood.
- Johnnie Sexton, AuD of Raleigh, North Carolina has dedicated almost four decades to working with deaf or hard-of-hearing children and has redefined counseling for families with children who have hearing challenges. Johnnie founded and runs the CARE Project, a non-profit that offers multimedia counseling and instructional materials to help families through the emotional journey of understanding and accepting their child’s hearing loss.
In addition, Oticon has recognized Jonathan Hutcherson, a musician and former contestant on The Voice, with an Outstanding Achievement Award. Diagnosed with hearing loss at two years old, Jonathan is a gifted role model with a story that resonates with anyone who has overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve their dreams.
“The field for this year’s Focus on People awards was as competitive as ever,” said Nancy Palmere, Director of Consumer Marketing and Public Relations for Oticon. “Throughout the 20 years of the Oticon Focus on People Awards program, hundreds of individuals’ unique and powerful stories have touched, inspired, and changed us for the better. This year’s winners are no different. They demonstrate that hearing loss doesn’t inhibit someone’s ability to thrive and make a meaningful difference in the world, and they continue to disprove negative perceptions of hearing loss.”