Local audiologist wins national award

Jennifer Gaston, right, won the 2019 Oticon Focus on People Award for Best Practitioner. (Courtesy photo)

By Cody Mello-Klein | [email protected]

Jennifer Gaston, an Alexandria resident who works as an audiologist at Kendall Demonstration Elementary School in D.C., received the 2019 Oticon Focus on People Award for Best Practitioner last month.

“I’ve always loved my job and I’ve always worked hard to provide the best care that I can and to be nominated and recognized for it is doubly special,” Gaston said.

Gaston was born with hearing loss herself, but was not diagnosed until she was 5 years old, she said.

Gaston has worked as an audiologist at Kendall, a school for the deaf and hard of hearing based on Gallaudet University’s campus in D.C, since 2013, but her passion for the field goes all the way back to middle school in upstate New York.

“I can remember sitting in the booth having my hearing testing done and I was just like, ‘I am so curious as to what all this is,’” Gaston said.

From that point on, Gaston said she never wavered.

At Kendall, Gaston serves every student from kindergarten to eighth grade by providing hearing aid and cochlear implant programming and maintenance. She also provides education sessions for families curious about new technology.

“I’ve always loved children and I love being part of that team that helps them in developing when they’re young,” Gaston said. “They’re craving language and they’re craving access, so whatever I can do to help that.”

Gaston found out she was nominated for Oticon’s award during the summer. After voting for the award closed on Nov. 21, she said she was surprised, more than anything, to find she had won the award for Best Practitioner.

“Hearing care is a profession that requires a level of caring and understanding that goes well beyond technical and audiological skills,” Nancy Palmere, director of consumer marketing and public relations for Oticon, said. “Winners in the Practitioner category, like Dr. Lightfoot, stand head and shoulders above the rest in their commitment to making the world a better place for people with hearing loss.”

“I just love my job and I love the kids, and I think I have a very close personal connection to it because of my experience throughout my life,” Gaston said. “It was just a huge honor to even be nominated.”



  1. Please do not use the inappropriate term – hearing impaired (or impairment). If I tell people that I am hearing impaired, they think something is wrong with me. However, if I tell people I am deaf, they say nothing is wrong with me except that I can’t hear! Those two terms are not interchangeable.

    Many deaf people who consider themselves to be just communicating through a different language (American Sign Language) can feel insulted when they’re identified as “impaired.” We are not disabled or impaired, we are a linguistic minority.

    “Hearing impairment” suggests a deficit or a handicap that must be corrected.

    We are not mute; we have a fully functioning, rich language through which we can express ourselves, learn and connect with one another. We are not impaired, we can access the world through our eyes instead!

    Please remove this “hearing impaired” – thanks.