Jim Detterline is an award winner. The former mountaineer and park ranger from Colorado had been recognized in the past for his service in rescue with the prestigious Medal of Valor from the Department of the Interior.
Now, he can add another award to his roster: the Oticon Focus on People Award. Given out each year since 1997 by Oticon, Inc., one of the world's oldest and most respected hearing aid manufacturers, the program – and the award - is designed to focus attention on common misconceptions about hearing loss, correct negative stereotypes, and motivate people with hearing loss to take advantage of the help that is available to them.
Jim is one of 12 recipients of this year's award who, according to Oticon President Peer Lauritsen, "are living proof that in a world where challenges exist and the potential for misfortune may be great, it is still possible to change your luck for the better with courage, determination and a good hearing care professional."
The four first-place category winners were recently honored at an awards ceremony held at the Oticon Human Link Conference in Stevenson, WA.
|Oticon Focus on People 2010 Winners. Back left to right:Bill Rogers, Oticon President Peer Lauritsen, Jacqueline Rogers Scholl and Jim Detterline. Front: Hayleigh Scott|
Among other top winners is 11-year-old Hayleigh Scott, who was born with a multitude of birth defects, including hearing loss. The New Hampshire sixth-grader launched a business called Hayleigh's Cherished Charms, where she sells hearing aid charms she designs herself.
|Living a charmed life, winner Hayleigh Scott|
In an interview with Healthy Hearing earlier this year, the young entrepreneur, who donates a portion of her proceeds for research and education into hearing loss, said that even though people who wear hearing aids "think they are different, they can always do something to make the world a better place."
Another winner this year is Bill Rogers, who has been instrumental in founding HEAR Nashville, an easily accessed resource for the help available to low-income hearing-impaired people in middle Tennessee.
"This recognition will empower me to work that much harder to bring awareness to the hard-of-hearing community of Nashville that there is help and hope for them," he says. "This award from Oticon confirms that many challenges we face can be overcome through friends, focus, technology and faith."
A proud track record
As for Jim Detterline, he describes his hearing loss as " bilateral mild sloping to severe sensorineural." Although his hearing impairment occurred when he was a young child, hearing technology was not available to him until he turned 29. "Prior to this, I compensated in multiple ways to succeed in my academic aspirations and in the beginning of my 27-year career as a ranger with the National Park Service," he tells Healthy Hearing.
The acquisition of hearing aids, however, made a significant difference in his life. "I completed a doctorate in Biology in only four years, and I became a permanent Climbing Ranger at Rocky Mountain National Park," he says. "With the National Park Service, I served on over 1200 rescues and in more law enforcement incidents than any ranger in the history of Rocky Mountain National Park."
Jim has seen more than once how effective hearing aid technology is. If fact, it has proven to be a real lifesaver.
"During one of my winters as a ranger, there was a female snowshoer stranded atop a cliff in the dark, during a snow storm, which muffles sound," Jim relates. "I arrived at Bear Lake, where we could hear this person yelling from afar for help, with three rangers of normal hearing ability. All four of us had different opinions as to where this lady was located, but it was me and my hearing aids that localized her whereabouts and rescued her."
Fighting against discrimination
|Jim Detterline has climbed mountains for poeple with hearing loss|
Unfortunately, Jim has noticed that in recent years, the National Park Service and other federal agencies have developed what he calls "policies which are discriminatory to the hearing impaired," with directives such as "The use of any hearing aid to comply with the medical standards [for park rangers] is unacceptable."
The Oticon "Focus on People" award has been a motivating factor for Jim to keep fighting against injustices and biases against the hearing-impaired community.
"It has encouraged me to continue my fight against these discriminatory standards, in the hopes that someday hearing impaired children, like the kids I volunteer for at the Marion Downs Hearing Center in Denver, will have the opportunity to excel in emergency and outdoor recreational work as I have," Jim vows.
Making the world "a better place"
The fourth first-place category winner is audiologist Jacqueline Rogers Scholl. Frustrated by the lack of services for children with hearing and speech impairments in the Tulsa area, Dr. Scholl opened the Scholl Center for Communication Disorders in 2008.
Second and third-place category winners are: Jennifer Gibson (Ontario, CAN);William Houpt (Summit, NJ); Zachary Cramer (Portage, MI); Jennifer Siu (Burlingame, CA); Ranie Mattingly (Idaho Falls, ID):Louis Touchette (Green Valley, AZ); Bari Pham, AuD (Hurst, TX); and Bettie Borton, AuD (Pike Road, AL).
"Our award winners have taken their unique circumstances and transformed their lives with a positive outlook that has enabled them to overcome challenges and accomplish goals well beyond what many thought possible," Oticon's Lauritsen says. "And they didn't stop there - each found his or her unique way to direct that positive energy to make the world a better place for others with hearing loss."