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Brian J. Farrell Awarded 2002 Oticon Focus on People Award

Oticon, Inc., a leading manufacturer of hearing instruments, awarded Brian J. Farrell 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 By recognizing the achievements of hearing impaired individuals, the awards program aims to change outdated stereotypes of what it means to have a hearing loss - stereotypes that often prevent people from seeking professional help.

Brian J. Farrell is 54 years old and he is the Client System Administrator for Courage Center - Golden Valley, Minnesota, where he has worked for 11 years.

Healthy Hearing recently asked Brian...."Why do you think you won the award?"

I believe I won the award because I "came out of the closet" regarding my hearing disability and I decided to educate others about what it's like to have hearing loss, rather that hide my loss and suffer the mental pain that goes with the loss. I am truly a "people" person and felt myself being deprived of my lifeblood.

I started proving that a person with profound hearing loss could volunteer and could make a difference. I volunteered to be a table official for wheelchair basketball -- even though I never heard a whistle for the first 10 years that I volunteered! I worked the shot clock for more that a couple of hundred games and trained numerous other volunteers.

With the confidence I gained, I started doing speeches to educate others on what living with hearing loss is like in the workplace and how it affects personal life. I encouraged others with hearing loss or total deafness to request their ADA rights as far as schooling and workplace accommodations and I joined the State Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission to fight for rights and programs for my "community".

As I grew up, I was well aware of the strain that can be put on a family when a child needs hearing aids. The costs can be quite high and without insurance covering any costs, the family can be emotionally scarred. I know the effect it had on my family and I am working to get either state mandated insurance or workplace insurance coverage for hearing aids.

Through my years volunteering, I feel that I gained much confidence to deal with my hearing loss and decided to go a step further and help others with disabilities . Seeing the hurdles that others with disabilities overcome inspired me to raise funds for programs to insure their confidence growth. I played in three, 100 hole golf marathons and was fortunate enough to raise pledges of over $25, 000 in a three year period. I still have work to do...but this was a start.

Also....since I have passed the threshold where hearing aids can help....I decided to enter a trial program and get a cochlear implant to see if I could in some small way improve life for others. It is working just fantastic and enabling me to speak more with others to help them overcome their hearing loss.

"Brian, what do you want EVERYONE to know about hearing loss?"

What I want EVERYONE to know about hearing loss is that technology is making it very exciting for people with hearing loss who desires to enrich their lives. Hearing aid manufacturers, audiologists, research scientists and speech pathologists are there to assist all with hearing loss and the battle is being won. Advances in the technology are coming at a great pace and everyone wins...BUT...we need people to help get insurance coverage to lessen the effect that costs have on the family.

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For more information on Oticon click here.

Click here to visit the Oticon website.

For More Information on Cochlear Implants, Click Here.

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