Director of Communications
Hearing Loss Association of America
By Carrie Johnson, Director of Communications, Hearing Loss Association of America
The December 7 “Hearing Health Today” podcast episode featured HLAA Executive Director Barbara Kelley and Abigail Heringer, former contestant on “The Bachelor” and “Bachelor in Paradise.”
In this podcast episode, Barbara Kelley represented the perspectives of HLAA as a consumer organization, and Abigail Heringer shared her perspective as a person living with hearing loss. Abigail explains, “I was born profoundly deaf, so I have no hearing if I remove my cochlear implant.”
Here are some highlights from the podcast:
“Hearing health overall needs to be more important and stressed as a part of overall health…. Abigail, I think what you have done is terrific because worldwide one in five people have a hearing loss. When I ask somebody, do you know somebody with a hearing loss, they think about it, and they do. Everybody knows somebody with a hearing loss. When you see somebody like Abigail be so open about talking about it, it says ‘look, I have a hearing loss and it doesn’t stop me from doing things.’”
“We all know that hearing aids and cochlear implants don’t correct hearing the way a pair of glasses might correct your vision. You need some added accommodations, even if it’s just asking, ‘please face me when you speak to me. Speak slower. Don’t yell. Let me see your lips. ‘I think it’s still upon the person with hearing loss who has to say, ‘I have a hearing loss and I need this.‘”
“I had a lot of reservations just because normally I’m a pretty private person and I’ve actually never really openly talked about my hearing loss growing up just because I’ve never had to be in a position where I had to do that. You know, my sister was older, so she always kind of led those conversations. My mom led those conversations. And so when I was deciding if I wanted to go on the show, I had a lot of reservations, are people going to be interested in my story? Is this something people want to hear? And then my mom said something like, “Well, if you go and share your story, if it can just impact one person, I think it’s worth it”. So that’s when I decided to move forward and basically just rip the Band-Aid off and bring it up the very first conversation that I had on TV. So, very nerve-wracking, but very happy that I did it.”
“When it came to doing the “Bachelor in Paradise” filming, it actually was easier just to ask for help, just because they all knew about my situation. So me just having to be vocal and saying, “Oh, I can’t do this part of the date.” I remember on “The Bachelor,” there was a date where we had to go paddling in the water in these giant pumpkins, and I just had to say, either I can’t do this or I’m going to have to take my cochlear implant off because, in case I fall in, they’re not waterproof. So it’s much easier to advocate and be able to advocate for yourself when other people are aware of your situation. But no, it was not always easy for me.”
For questions or more information, email HLAA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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