One Woman Who Helps Millions Of People She Will Never Meet
By Dr. Ruth Gotian
“Your daughter has a hearing loss.” Those are the words Janice Lintz was told by her daughter’s pediatrician when her world started to crumble around her. “Don’t worry,” the doctor continued, “there are special schools for her.” For Lintz, those were fighting words. She was unwilling to dilute her daughter’s developmental experiences, especially in the culture-rich capital of New York City, where she lived. That is when Lintz went on a crusade to make the world more accessible to those with hearing loss. To date, her efforts have helped the 48 million Americans with hearing loss, more than the combined populations of the states of California and New Jersey.
“It was easier for me to change the world then it was to lower my standards,” said Lintz. However, proper hearing aids were only the first step. The next step was to advance induction loop technology in the United States. This technology allows those with hearing aids and cochlear implants to receive transmission and reception of communication signals in their hearing aid or cochlear implants, thereby increasing their ability to hear sound.
Sitting in the back of a taxi cab in the United Kingdom with her family, Lintz realized that the driver, who was wearing a hearing aid, could participate in their conversation while her daughter struggled to do so. So Lintz inquired and first learned about this technology while zipping through the streets of London. Then, she made it her mission to bring the technology to America’s taxis. Today, New York City taxi cabs, subway information booths and call boxes, Broadway theaters, museums, and baseball stadiums are on the long list of those who host the induction loop technology.
Lintz, who is on a mission to travel to every country in the world, was sitting on a plane watching a movie when she realized that she couldn’t hear the movie over the engine noise and was increasing the volume, which could damage her own hearing. Stymied by the lack of closed captioning available on In-flight entertainment, she approached Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic when she attended the World Economic Forum. After Virgin Atlantic added the captions, she reached out to the CEO of Delta to add closed captioning on all Delta flights. Mission accomplished. She then submitted a Federal comment to the US Department of Transportation, resulting in captions on all In-flight entertainment on flights emanating and departing from the US. She knew once this happened, airlines globally would and did add captions.
What started as a crusade to help her daughter quickly turned into a profound talent to help organizations, cities, and countries initiate and implement far-reaching change on a host of topics ranging from medical billing transparency to domestic violence. Today, she is one of the world’s premier change agents, respected by senior government officials, prime ministers, and presidents worldwide. Click here for a complete list of her most recent accomplishments.
Having testified before Congress, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Federal Communications Commission and having effectively pushed some of the country’s largest governing bodies to implement change, Lintz realized that she could do even more. Previously having earned a law degree, Lintz decided that it is never too late to go back to school, build her change management toolbox, and learn from the top experts in the field. So while still fighting for change, she will enter Harvard’s Kennedy School in July.
That “special” school, her daughter, was encouraged to attend? Lintz’s daughter received a bachelor’s from Brown University and is currently getting her master’s degree at Yale University. “We are both students together, each trying to effect change in our own way.” Lintz was never willing to settle for the crumbs she was given as a way to appease her and make her go away. Millions of people she will never meet can be thankful that Lintz never settled.