I'm very excited to announce that I have been chosen as an Oticon Focus on People Awards finalist in their Advocacy category. Oticon has selected three people in each of four categories -Student, Adult, Advocacy, and Practitioner - to be their finalists. The ultimate winner in each category will be chosen by online vote. Here's the official press release I received today:
Sarah Wegley Selected as Top Finalist in the 2011 Oticon Focus on People Awards
“Cast your vote for who inspires you! Our goal is to reach as many people as possible with the inspirational stories of our Focus on People Award finalists,” says Nancy Palmere, Sr. Marketing Manager at Oticon, Inc. “Log onto oticonusa.com and read about the accomplishments of some remarkable people with hearing loss and dedicated practitioners who are helping to show that hearing loss does not limit a person’s ability to achieve, contribute and inspire.”
First place winners in each category win $1,000 and a $1,000 donation from Oticon to the charity of their choice. First place winners in the Student, Adult and Advocacy also win a pair of Oticon advanced technology hearing instruments.
Voting is open now through August 29 at oticonusa.com. Winners will be announced in September.
About the Focus on People Awards
Oticon Focus on People Awards, a national awards program now in its 14th year, honors hearing impaired students, adults and advocacy volunteers who have demonstrated 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 By spotlighting people with hearing loss and their contributions, Oticon aims to change outdated stereotypes that discourage people from seeking professional help for their hearing loss.
What Oticon Wrote About Me, My Blog, and My Advocacy
Sarah Wegley is a librarian who doesn't believe it is necessary – or a good idea – to keep your voice down, especially when it comes to addressing something as important as hearing loss.
In her award-winning blog, "Speak Up Librarian," Sarah chronicles her own experiences with late-onset hearing loss and invites others with hearing loss to speak out about their own challenges, adventures and achievements.
Sarah, who has a moderate hearing loss, has worn hearing devices since 2006. At that time, she knew no one in a similar situation and frankly admits that it was lonely. Writing her blog at first was an outlet, a way for her to talk about how hearing loss had affected her emotionally. She was shocked to find a group of individuals from all walks of life who were happy and grateful to read and share along with her.
At first, Sarah’s blogs invited followers to come with along on journey to "come to terms with my hearing loss and adjust to life with hearing aids." Over time, her blog became more than just her own story. Today, it is a source of information for not only people with hearing loss but also for people who are interested in learning more about hearing loss.
Not all of Sarah's contributions are virtual. Her advocacy interests include open captioned films, accessible online education and hearing aid insurance coverage and she was recently elected the Social Chair of the Association of Late Deafened Adults Chicago.
In her new role, Sarah has been instrumental in opening group members to new experiences and changing the perceptions of the people in everyday life that they meet along the way. She recounted an experience in a local restaurant where the wait staff had to make special accommodations for the group, such as being careful to face the people at the table as they spoke. In Sarah’s estimation it was a win-win for all including the wait staff.
"I try to raise awareness wherever I can," Sarah says. "Life does go on with hearing loss!" There is no doubt that it will go a bit more smoothly for people with hearing loss, thanks to Sarah's candid and honest commentary online and off.
Thank you, Oticon!