Special Award Recognizes Barbie with Hearing Aids for Encouraging Next Generation to Celebrate and Embrace Differences
SOMERSET, NJ March 8 – The 2022 Oticon Focus on People Awards honored 12 remarkable people whose courage, vision and commitment are helping to change the perception of what it means to have a hearing loss. Created by Oticon in 1997, the national awards program has brought well deserved recognition to more than 300 extraordinary people who demonstrate that hearing loss does not limit a person’s ability to live a full, productive and even inspiring life. This year, a special award recognized Barbie with Hearing Aids and leading toy manufacturer Mattel for helping to empower understanding and appreciation of hearing loss among the next generation.
“Our 2022 Oticon Focus on People Award winners have taken their unique circumstances and accomplished goals well beyond what many may have thought possible,” said Nancy Palmere Mucha, Director of Consumer Marketing and Public Relations for Oticon, Inc. “We are pleased to recognize their contributions to making the world a better place for others with hearing loss. They are truly role models for all.”
The 2022 award winners were recognized at a gala awards ceremony in Orlando on February 25 attended by hearing care professionals from across the US. Thousands of votes cast by people from around the world helped to determine who among the 12 finalists would be the 2022 first, second and third place winners in the Adult, Student, Practitioner and Advocacy categories.
A highlight of the Awards ceremony was Mattel’s gift of more than 950 Barbie with Hearing Aids dolls to the hearing care professionals attending the gala. “The Barbie brand believes in the power of representation, and we are committed to continuing to introduce dolls, like Barbie with Hearing Aids, that reflect the diversity children see in the world around them,” said Lisa McKnight, Executive Vice President and Global Head of Barbie and Dolls, Mattel. “It’s important for young people to see themselves reflected in our products. And it’s equally important to encourage children to play with dolls that may not resemble them to help them understand and celebrate the importance of inclusion.”
The 2022 Oticon Focus on People Award winners are:
STUDENT – Erin Cembrale, Dunedin, FL
Erin views her hearing loss as a strength – one that has motivated her to try harder and never give up. Her commitment has paid off for the college senior and soccer phenom. Since age 3, she has played for many clubs, high school and college teams and most recently for the US Deaf Women’s National Team (USDWNT). In May, her team captured the gold in the Deaflympics in Brazil. In 2023, she will travel to Korea with the USDWNT to compete in the World Cup. Determined and compassionate, Erin inspires and mentors young soccer players with disabilities. Off the field, she is an orientation leader, student recruiter and vice president of the Student Athletic Association Club at Huntingdon College.
ADULT – Zina Jawadi, Los Altos Hills, CA
Diagnosed with significant hearing loss at 3.5 years old, Zina’s life-long passion has been to help transform the lives of people with hearing loss. Today, she is a medical student and the youngest ever member of the Hearing Loss Association of America Board of Directors. Zina advocates for people with hearing loss among medical professionals. She believes accommodations are essential in establishing trust, formulating a diagnosis, creating an effective treatment plan, and ensuring patients play an active role in their health. Her long-term goal is to increase representation of people with hearing loss in the field of medicine and to address accessibility barriers for people with hearing loss and with disabilities more broadly.
ADVOCACY – Gregory Scott, New York, NY
Like many people with hearing loss, Greg had difficulty hearing in noisy bars and restaurants. He began to measure noise with a smartphone decibel meter and develop lists of quieter spots. Friends, those with normal hearing and those with hearing loss, would continuously ask for the lists. This inspired Greg to create the SoundPrint crowdsourcing app. Using the app’s internal decibel meter, anyone can measure and report the sound levels of their surroundings to the SoundPrint database. Today, people around the world can freely access the SoundPrint app to learn if a certain venue is quiet or loud. Beyond making conversation easier, the database is shared with venue managers, public health researchers and hearing health advocates to let them know people care about noise.
PRACTITIONER – Jamie Marotto, AuD, Fairfield, CT
As Director of the Sacred Heart University (SHU) Undergraduate Program in Communication Disorders and Director of the Audiology Clinic, Dr. Marotto knows the value of integrating her classroom teaching with clinical experience, especially when caring for patients in underserved communities. In the clinic, students learn how evaluating and treating hearing loss across a lifespan can improve a patient’s ability to work, interact socially and minimize health risks associated with hearing loss. To further drive home the importance of using their knowledge and skills to give back, Dr. Marotto leads students on an annual service-learning trip to Guatemala to provide hearing-related services and hearing aid fittings to in-need children and adults.
In addition to a $1000 prize, first place winners received a $1000 donation from Oticon, Inc. to give to the non-profit organization of their choice. First place winners in the Adult, Student and Advocacy categories also received a pair of Oticon BrainHearing™ technology hearing aids.
There are eight Second and Third Place Winners in the program’s four categories:
2nd Place – Lauren Harris, Knoxville, TN
3rd Place - Mercy Botchway, Everett, MA
2nd Place – Meaghan Thomas, Nashville, TN
3rd Place – Shirley Forpe, Palatine, IL
2nd Place – Renee Polanco Lucerno, PhD, Culver City, CA
3rd Place – Shanna Groves, Olathe, KS
2nd Place – Dawn Heiman, AuD, Woodridge, IL
3rd Place – Mary L. Frintner, AuD, Burbank, CA
Learn more about the Oticon Focus on People Awards program at Oticon.com/FOP.
The 2022 Oticon Focus on People Award winners were recognized at a gala awards ceremony in Orlando on February 25 attended by hearing care professionals from across the US. (l-r) Jamie Marotto, AuD (Practitioner), Oticon President Gary Rosenblum, Erin Cembrale (Student) and Gregory Scott (Advocacy). Not shown: Zina Jawadi (Adult).