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Oticon Focus on People Awards Honor Five Who Defy Stigma Of Hearing Loss

San Antonio, April 2 - The 2003 Oticon Focus on People Awards today honored 12 hard-of-hearing people who prove that hearing loss does not limit a person's ability to live a full, productive and even, inspiring life. The national awards competition, sponsored by Oticon, Inc., the world's oldest hearing instrument manufacturer, celebrated the accomplishments of Adam Boardman of Ohio, Katie Sullivan of New Jersey, Dr. Maxine Sutcliffe of Florida and Sherri Collins of Arizona.

A special award recognizing the critical role of hearing care professionals in improving the world of hearing impaired people was presented to three practitioners: Elizabeth Cook of Denville, New Jersey, Blaine Smith of San Antonio, Texas and John Wright of Birmingham, Alabama.

Selected from over 300 nominees, the 15 winners each earned top honors in one of the program's five categories: Youth (children, ages 5-12), Student (full-time students, ages 13-25), Adult (age 18 and over), Advocacy (individuals of all ages involved in advocacy for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community) and Practitioner (for hearing care professionals currently in practice).

Now in its seventh year, the Oticon Focus on People Awards program 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.

"Oticon created the Focus on People Awards to show the world that hearing loss does not diminish a person's ability to live life to its fullest and most productive," explained Oticon President Mikael Worning. "Most importantly, we want to encourage those with hearing loss to seek professional guidance and take advantage of the new technologies and procedures that enable them to live the life they want with the hearing they have."

The current Miss Washington and Miss America finalist, Amanda Beers, who is hearing impaired, served as a special guest speaker for the awards ceremony. She spoke of her own experience with hearing loss and applauded Oticon's commitment to changing negative stereotypes.

Category Winners

Youth Category Winner, Adam Boardman of Cincinnati, Ohio

Seven-year-old Adam's positive attitude is an inspiration to all. Adam was diagnosed in May of 2000 with a primitive neuroectodermal brain tumor. Surgery, follow-up radiation and chemotherapy treatments caused severe hearing loss in both ears. Adam was successfully fitted with binaural hearing aids in 2001. He promptly took his care kit to school and taught his classmates about hearing aids. His teachers were so impressed that they asked Adam to conduct similar presentations for other classes. Today, Adam continues his educational outreach to youngsters in his hometown, helping to insure that future generations will understand that hearing loss, and life's other challenges, cannot diminish a person's ability to lead a rich and rewarding life.

Student Winner, Katie Sullivan of Woodhaven, New York
Thirteen-year-old Katie was born with a severe/profound hearing loss. She attended infant deaf programs where she was taught as an "aided" oral child. Mainstreamed in public school and enrolled in gifted programs, she has excelled academically. In fifth grade, Katie and two peers designed a national award-winning copyright website for "Thinkquest Junior." An accomplished writer and illustrator, her book entitled, How Can I Hear, won the Ezra Jack Keats Award and Medal for the Borough of Queens, New York.

Adult Category Winner, Maxine Sutcliffe, Ph.D., FACMG, FCCMG, of St. Petersburg, Florida
Dr. Sutcliffe, director of Cytogenetics at Children's Hospital and an associate professor of Pediatrics at the University of South Florida, experienced a progressive hearing loss that began in early adulthood. Board certified and qualified in both cytogenetics and molecular genetics, she has published in numerous journals. Her work, which includes laboratory, studies, patient counseling and research, has been cited in over 60 publications and two books. She is a sought-after speaker at universities, forums and conferences across the U.S. and the United Kingdom.

Advocacy Category Winner, Sherri Collins of Phoenix, Arizona
Sherri Collins, deaf since birth, attended the Illinois School for the Deaf. It was here that she first found acceptance and formed her life-long commitment to advocacy for hearing impaired people. Today, she is actively achieving many of the goals developed during those formative years. As executive commissioner for the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing, she leads an innovative team in providing communication access, support services and community empowerment throughout Arizona. Thanks to her work, every deaf and hard-of-hearing person in the state of Arizona is entitled to free telephone amplifiers or amplified telephones. On KTVK-TV and KUAT-TV in Phoenix, she hosts the Saturday morning television show "Sign Out," offering insightful and practical information on hearing loss to her loyal audiences.

Practitioner Category Winner, Elizabeth W. Cook, M.A., FAAA of Denville, New Jersey
Elizabeth is a dedicated professional who has served hearing impaired patients for 25 years. Certified in tinnitus re-training therapy, she is esteemed by her peers for her ability to successfully fit extremely difficult audiometric configurations and unusual anatomical circumstances. The co-author of a chapter in the CIC Handbook, she also writes the "Ask LizShe's Listening" column for Fifty Plus Magazine.

Blue Ribbon Judging Panel
The winners were selected by independent judging committee composed of leading hearing care professionals. This year's program judges included Jack Adams, MS, CCC-A of Audiology Consultants in Cape Coral, Florida, Ellen Dolich of HIP Publishing Group, Mary Jo Grote, Ph.D. of the Hearing Health Care Center in Manassas, Virginia, Christine Jakubec of the Educational Audiological Association and Claire Kantor of Summit Speech School in Summit, New Jersey.

Ten Second and Third Place Winners
The Oticon Focus on People Awards also recognized second and third place winners in each category. Second place winners were: Blaine Smith ACA, BC-HIS of San Antonio, TX, (Practitioner), Denise Jones, PHR of Spokane, WA (Advocacy), Dr. Sandra Harris of Piscataway, NJ (Adult), Lauren Kovarik of Albuquerque, NM (Student) and Margaret Judith Katter of Indianapolis, IN (Youth). Third place winners were John D. Wright, M.S., CCC-A of Birmingham, AL (Practitioner), Scott DeLoach of Aurora, IL (Advocacy), Myrle Green of Birmingham, AL (Adult), Austin Nelson of South Kent, CT (Student) and Daniel Ocasio of Livermore, CA (Youth).

For more information about the Oticon Focus on People Award and hearing health, log on to www.oticonus.com.

For more information on Oticon click here.

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