Lise Hamlin, director of public policy at the Hearing Loss Association of America received the Karen Peltz Strauss Public Policy Award on August 16, 2019, at the TDI Biennial Conference. The award was presented by the award’s namesake Karen Peltz Strauss, disability advocate and former deputy chief of the consumer and governmental affairs bureau of the Federal Communications Commission. The TDI conference and awards ceremony was held at the Kellogg Center, Gallaudet University, in Washington, D.C.
Karen remarked when she presented the award: “When I think about optimism and resilience, I think about Lise. There are tens of millions of people who are deaf or hard of hearing in America, and countless hundreds of millions in the world. The impact that your advocacy has had on these people has been astounding. I have had the good fortune to work with you both as a colleague and as a regulator. From both vantage points, I have found you to be inspirational. In your calm and dignified way, you have been a tireless leader who is both powerful and persuasive.
“You’ve taken the power of your own story to better the lives of others with similar experiences, bringing about legislative and regulatory reforms that have led to higher standards of living and full inclusion for all. Your deep awareness and understanding of issues affecting access for people with hearing loss is unparalleled and unique. I recall at the FCC you became our source for all things related to hard of hearing issues. Your collaborative and easy-going style has enabled you to work through often complicated and challenging problems, to find common ground that can successfully result in achieving mutually agreeable solutions. This is to the good fortune of not only consumers, but regulated industries and government staff tasked with overseeing those industries. I think we can all agree that, given your successes, your style is not only worthy of admiration, it is worthy of imitation.”
Lise Hamlin’s work in advocacy began more than 20 years ago in New York City. She worked for the New York League for the Hard of Hearing, now the Center for Hearing and Communication and volunteered with the HLAA Chapters in the New York City area. When she moved to the Washington, D.C., area she was well-known for her work at the Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf & Hard of Hearing Persons and, in 2008, she joined the HLAA national staff as director of public policy. In these roles, and in her work on numerous committees and coalitions such as the FCC’s Disability Advisory Committee, AT&T’s Advisory Panel on Access and Aging, the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Consumer Advocacy Network, and the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology, she represented people with hearing loss and their rights.
Karen continued, “Lise fought with passion and distinction to improve access to affordable over-the-counter hearing aids, high-quality television captions and equal access to captioned telephone relay services, and played a major part in successfully helping to reach a landmark consumer-industry consensus agreement in 2015 that commits to a goal of 100 percent hearing aid compatible phones in America. Added to this has been her efforts to improve employment opportunities and emergency preparedness for people with hearing loss.
HLAA Executive Director Barbara Kelley said, “HLAA members and supporters have benefited from Lise’s work to ensure that people with hearing loss have communication access as an equal right. HLAA is proud to have Lise as part of our dedicated staff who work on behalf of the 48 million people with hearing loss in the U.S.”
The Karen Peltz Strauss Public Policy Award is given occasionally to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to improving accessibility to telecommunications, media and information technology in the United States through efforts in public policy development.