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Betty Timon Awarded 2002 Oticon Focus on People Award

Oticon, Inc., a leading manufacturer of hearing instruments, awarded Betty Timon one of the prestigious 2002 Oticon Focus on People Awards. Created in 1998, the national awards program honors individuals with mild, moderate or severe hearing loss, who demonstrate through their accomplishments that hearing loss does not limit a person's ability to make a difference in their families, communities and the world. By recognizing the achievements of hearing impaired individuals, the awards program aims to change outdated stereotypes of what it means to have a hearing loss - stereotypes that often prevent people from seeking professional help.

Betty Timon is 70 years old. She has worn hearing aids for more than 30 years. Mrs. Timon reports that when she first got hearing aids (in 1970) she promptly placed them in her dresser drawer - thank heavens those days are long gone! She is currently a volunteer advocate for hearing impaired and deaf people, a world traveler, a commissioner with the Kentucky Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, a housewife, Chair of the Deaf Services for Mental Health, and she resides in Kentucky.

Healthy Hearing asked Mrs. Timon, "Why do you think you won the award?"

I care about people and they care about my advocacy work and me. Quite an honor in itself! I guess I have been overly lucky and blessed with being in the right place at the right time when something needed to be done. Blessed with people around me who give their support and have a special understanding of the passion that I have had for 35 years. I just can't seem to get enough of seeing people with hearing loss become independent and enjoying life because access was made available to them.

I have been lucky and blessed to know people who cared enough to take the time to enter my name into Oticon's Focus on People Award. They allowed me the honor of winning this award. I want to thank the judges who chose me for the advocacy award. I am still so very much in awe that this happened to me. People I know will laugh at this, but I have been known to be "pushy" about access. I love seeing when the fair thing is done. The people who nominated me for this award know I will do anything to get the word out and to help any one, any time, any place. I think I will see the void and advocate for access the rest of my life.

Seeking access for deaf and hard of hearing people is an everyday part of my life. Any place I end up, I am always checking. There are many funny stories I could tell you about getting access or proving that it is needed. Just ask my husband! It all feels as natural to me as getting dressed every day to go out. Anyone who will listen to my stories of access ends up becoming involved. I encourage them to follow my motto of "PUSHING THE NEED." A long time ago I made myself a small poster, I see it every day to remind me to keep "PUSHING THE NEED." It is very rewarding to me to see those who have the need to acquire access and the freedom that access can give.

"Mrs. Timon, what do you want EVERYONE to know about hearing and hearing loss?"

First and utmost it is a necessity to take care of your hearing. Hearing is one of the most precious things you have. Avoid prolonged exposure to loud noise. I worry about the loud music I hear coming from young peoples' cars -- and I am deaf! I fear they are loosing their hearing and they're not even aware of it. I have heard that a ringing or buzz in your ears after being exposed to loud noise is a warning. Wearing ear protecting when exposed to loud noise is so important. Have your ears checked by an audiologist and every few years have a hearing test. Ears are part of our bodies but when it comes to upkeep ears seem to be last in line. Often, you are the last person to realize you are not hearing well.

I know from experience that losing your hearing can be devastating. When you realize what is happening to you and your hearing, you don't know where to turn or what to do. Everyone goes through this same feeling. If you can find a Self-Help for Hard of Hearing group near you, go to it. You will receive support, understanding, and education on hearing loss. The big plus is you will find fellowship of others just like you. You will see you are not alone. You will know that other people have survived this same challenge and have a great life. I have read some place, "Challenges are what makes life interesting, overcoming them is what makes life meaningful." This can make you a very special person!

In Kentucky, newborn baby's hearing is checked soon after birth because every precious day of no sound input steals time from learning. When you discover you have hearing loss, see what can be offered to you and evaluate your options. Try to choose an item you think will help you fulfill the communication needs of your life style. Be sure you remember to ask for a telephone switch on your hearing aid. Because a telephone switch does so much more then let you hear on the phone better. It can also connect you to listening devices that will allow you to hear better at meetings or the theater. Don't let ANYONE tell you what you should wear or what setting it should be set. Audiologists do a fantastic job! But you are responsible for choosing and using what you buy and keep. That's why so many hearing aids have a 30 day "trial" to make sure we have the right thing. I learned from this mistake myself. Now I know I have to participate in the hearing aid process. Most of my audiologists are still wondering where I came from because I am not in their textbooks for choosing hearing aids or the settings. But we love learning together. I have very special friends who are audiologists and we have a mutual respect for each other. I think this is important to have.

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