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Oticon Focus on People Award Honors Nanci Linke-Ellis

National Award Spotlights Hard of Hearing People Who Defy Negative Stereotypes

Nanci Linke-Ellis of Santa Monica, is among 15 outstanding hard-of-hearing people honored by the Oticon Focus on People Awards, a national competition that recognizes individuals who are helping to break down stereotypes of what it means to have a hearing loss. Linke-Ellis' selection as a winner in the Advocacy Category, was announced in San Diego at the fifth annual Oticon Focus on People Awards where over 8,000 audiologists from around the world were gathered for the American Academy of Audiologists (AAA) Convention.

An outstanding advocate for the deaf and hard of hearing community, Linke-Ellis' is best known for her efforts to bring the needs of those with hearing loss to the attention of the motion picture industry, which has resulted in open captioned movies in theatres across the nation. As the driving force behind Tripod Captioned Films Program, she has steered the Burbank CA based outreach program to bring open-captioned films to the general marketplace on a regular and systematic basis. Ms. Linke-Ellis also serves on a variety of deaf advisory boards on state and national levels. She is a former executive board member of the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf of CA, a Past President of DEAF, an active member of the Educational Programs Committee for the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and a member of the Federal Communication Commission, Consumer/Disability Telecommunications Advisory Committee.

The Oticon Focus on People awards were started in 1996 to reach out to the 80 percent of an estimated 28 million Americans who could benefit from hearing instruments, but who fail to seek professional help. A recent online survey of audiologists from across the country found many hesitate to seek help because of concerns about looking old, fear of appearing less functional and lack of knowledge about the hearing solutions available to them.
By celebrating the accomplishments and contributions of hearing-impaired individuals, like Linke-Ellis, the Focus on People Awards hopes to call attention to common misconceptions about hearing loss and motivate people with hearing loss to take advantage of the help that is available to them.

Negative Perceptions Persist
Experts say that the stigma associated with hearing loss may explain why most hard-of-hearing people wait an average of 10 years before obtaining a hearing aid despite the incredible advances of recent years, including the introduction of digital hearing instruments. In the online survey, seventy-two percent of the audiologists polled said media portrayal of people with hearing loss contributes to the negative stigma. Other factors cited by respondents included: equation of hearing loss with old age and declining abilities (36 percent), lack of subsidy for hearing aids from health care programs (24 percent), and societal side-lining of people perceived as less competent due to their hearing loss (20 percent).

"Given that hearing loss is the number-one disability in America, these findings are significant," says Mikael Worning, president of Oticon, Inc. "It's interesting to note that Americans now openly discuss and seek help for once 'unmentionable' diseases and disabilities, but not hearing loss. The challenge continues to be changing outdated and hurtful misconceptions of what it means to have a hearing loss."

Founded in 1904, Oticon is one of the world's most experienced hearing aid manufacturers. A pioneer in digital technology, Oticon introduced the first ear-level fully digital hearing instrument in 1996. People First is the motto for Oticon, which is committed to improving the quality of life for those with hearing loss through research, technological advancement and a focus on patient requirements.

For more information on Oticon click here.

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