2008 Oticon Focus on People Awards winners L-R:  Todd Landsberg, AuD, Eugene Speech and Hearing Center, Eugene, Ore (practitioner); Lynn Rousseau, Gainesville, Fla (advocacy); Peer Lauritsen; Cindy Dyer, Alexandria, Va (adult); Mariella Paulino, Bronx, NY (student); and Doug Wernke, M Ed of the South Dakota School for the Deaf, Rapid City, SD (pediatric practitioner).

A quiet woman who found her voice lobbying for the rights of people with hearing loss, a photographer/graphic designer whose creative vision is changing the way people with hearing loss see themselves, and a scholar at one of the country’s most prestigious universities who surpassed early predictions that she would find her life’s work at the counter of a fast food restaurant . . . 

These are just four of the 15 outstanding individuals honored by the 2008 Oticon Focus on People Awards, a national awards program that recognizes people with hearing loss who prove that hearing loss does not limit a person’s ability to live a full, productive and even, inspiring life.  Created by Oticon Inc, Somerset, NJ in 1997, the awards program focuses attention on common misconceptions about hearing loss, corrects negative stereotypes, and motivates people with hearing loss to take advantage of the help available to them.

“Through the Focus on People Awards, we hope to show the world that hearing loss does not diminish a person’s ability to live a full and productive life,” says Peer Lauritsen, the company’s president. “More importantly, we want to encourage everyone with hearing loss to seek professional guidance. In doing this, we remain true to our mission: to address the needs, wishes, and concerns of people with hearing loss first.” 

More than 300 hearing care professionals nationwide celebrated the award winners at a celebration in Denver during a special Oticon Human Link Conference. The 2008 winners were selected from among 200 nominees, earning first-, second-, or third-place honors in one of five categories: student (full-time students with hearing loss, ages 6 to 21), adult (people with hearing loss, ages 21 and beyond), advocacy (individuals of all ages involved in advocacy for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community), and practitioner and pediatric practitioner (for hearing care professionals currently in practice).

The winners were selected by independent judging committee composed of leading hearing care professionals.   This year’s program judges included: Terry Limb, AuD, Evergreen Speech & Hearing Clinic, Kirkland, Wash;
Jackie Rand, Rady’s Children’s Hospital, San Diego; Sharon Sandridge, PhD. CCC-A, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland;  Larry Solow, AuD, PhD, Valley Hearing Center, Salinas, Calif ; and Lisa Steinwart, AuD, Steinwart Audiology, Yorkville, Ill.