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Beltone highlights community heroes with Safe & Sound Award for hearing health advocacy

CHICAGO, July 20, 2017 — Hearing is vital to those who work in lifesaving jobs where the stakes are high — one wrong interpretation or missed cue can have calamitous consequences. Hearing loss can carry a social stigma that prevents people from acting to correct it. To celebrate those who serve their communities despite hearing loss, hearing aid manufacturer Beltone created the Beltone Safe & Sound Award. It honors "hearing heroes" nationwide who serve on the frontlines of our communities to keep them safe.

To emphasize, Chicago-based Beltone, a 77-year-old company and worldwide leader in the hearing aid industry, has so far commended four individuals — a police officer, two fire battalion chiefs, and a respiratory therapist — for their hearing advocacy and willingness to publicly discuss their hearing loss and need for hearing aids.

Corrine Perritano, president of Beltone North America, remarked, "Our aim with these awards is to recognize those who serve us every day, often at the expense of their hearing. These professionals are in the prime of their lives, yet realized their hearing loss could affect their work, so they were proactive and made the decision to wear hearing aids. Hearing aids must stand up to the demands of their work, which is one reason Beltone is so committed to constantly improving its technology.

"We wanted to recognize these heroes for being brave enough to tell their stories, continue to protect lives, and encourage others to have their hearing checked. We appreciate their help in communicating the importance of addressing hearing loss and how it can affect a person's career, interactions with family and friends, and long-term health."

Studies have shown that unaddressed hearing loss can lead to isolation, loss of brain function, and even dementia.* With the sophisticated, powerful, discreet hearing aids currently available, Beltone is on a mission to defy stereotypes and educate the public about the importance of maximizing hearing health. At its 1,500 nationwide hearing centers, Beltone offers free screenings that benchmark a person's hearing capabilities, much as we already do with our vision, in order to track any loss as time passes.

The four Safe & Sound Award recipients remarked on the importance of hearing well:

Dan Carione, 50, police officer, Brooklyn, N.Y.:
"I lost partial hearing in my right ear during a shootout in the line of duty in 1996. It took me 12 years to admit I needed a hearing aid. When I did, I was fired for wearing it, and fought to get my job back in a protracted landmark Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuit. It made me a different person, fighting for what I knew to be right. I'm proud to have paved the way for other officers and first responders with hearing loss to be able to keep their jobs if they wear an assistive hearing device."

Cheryle Melendez, 53, respiratory therapist, Mission Hospital, Mission Viejo, Calif.:
"Everybody has an airway, everybody needs to breathe. At the hospital, I have people's lives in my hands — premature infants, asthmatic patients, people on life support, in the ER. When a patient's alarm goes off, I have to be able to hear it. Wearing state-of-the-art hearing aids has made a huge improvement in my professional and personal life and it probably even saved my career."

David Picone, 52, fire battalion chief, Southern Calif.:
"It was vanity that made me resist getting hearing aids for quite some time, but now I realize it was foolish to wait. I have to be able to hear and understand what's being said on a two-way radio, in daily conversation, to other fire personnel in the field. I shouldn't have waited so long."

Dave Connor, 55, fire battalion chief, Southern California:
"As hard as it was for me to accept that at 55 years old I needed hearing aids, it was a fact. Any rescue or emergency scene is a dynamic, often loud one, and it's important to be able to communicate. Lives can be at stake."

More than 48 million Americans (20 percent) have hearing loss; only one in four take action to improve their ability to hear. Consumers can get free hearing evaluations at Beltone offices to establish their hearing benchmark.

About Beltone
Founded in 1940, Chicago-based Beltone is part of the GN Hearing Care Group, a global leader in intelligent audio solutions with a unique portfolio of medical, professional and consumer audio solutions. Using advanced technology to produce hearing aid instruments sold in the United States, Canada and more than 50 countries worldwide, Beltone provides industry-leading products, services and support for its U.S. hearing care network operating in over 1,500 offices in North America. Beltone remains the most trusted brand for quality products and care among its patients and adults aged 50 and older. Visit Beltone at www.beltone.com.

*Johns Hopkins and National Institute on Aging, February 2011 http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/hearing_loss_and_dementia_linked_in_study

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