Plano resident Dylan Rafaty has steadfastly worked to improve education and employment opportunities for the differently-abled in the city and throughout Texas. Now he is a nominee for a national award and needs community support.
Oticon, a worldwide company dedicated to hearing health, has announced the 2020 Focus on People Awards. Rafaty is one of three finalists in the category of advocacy. Oticon describes this as people “who are helping to show that hearing loss does not limit a person’s ability to make a positive difference in their families, communities, or the world."
Rafaty, born with a congenital hearing impairment, is a 2009 graduate of Plano West Senior High School, received an associate degree from Collin College and earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Phoenix.
He is vice chairman for the Texas Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities and was nominated for the Oticon Award by Gov. Greg Abbott’s staff. Rafaty is also the founder of DylanListed, LLC. The company is dedicated to “empowering special needs youth in high school to smartly prepare for the transition to employment,” Rafaty said.
DylanListed initiatives and services work as a bridge to join youth and adults with disabilities to educators and employers. Rafaty champions the differently-abled as a viable and dependable yet often overlooked workforce for businesses.
Outside of work, he continues to volunteer his time and talent to various North Texas nonprofit organizations. Rafaty is advocating the city of Plano's need for one additional community engagement group to be added to the boards and commissions.
“There is currently no defined representation for the disabled – a group that comprises all ages, races, genders and an increasing number of military veterans,” he said. “The city does provide accessibility in public meetings at City Hall through requests.”
Yet, in a city of 300,000 people, there is only one all-abilities playground and no street intersections with accessible pedestrian signals for the visually impaired, he said.
When asked what this award would mean to him if he won, Rafaty paused for a moment of thought. Then he said, “Recognition opens doors to help others to see my mission as their own. I see a world where all people with disabilities have a better quality of life, the general public understands others different from themselves, and comfort is given to those who are discouraged. I am a positive person and hope to inspire results through collaboration with kindness."
Community support is needed to recognize Rafaty for his advocacy, service and dedication to differently-abled people. It is free to cast your vote now through Nov. 15 for Rafaty at oticon.com/inside-oticon/life-changing-technology/fop/finalists.