Abigail Heringer made headlines when she first appeared on this season of “The Bachelor". She is the first person with cochlear implants to be on the show and has proven the importance of representation, especially on big network TV shows. See what some cochlear implant recipients think of her appearance on the show:
Abigail Heringer has made history as the first person who hears with cochlear implants to be on “The Bachelor”. Having cochlear implants since she was 2 years old, Abigail proves how important representation is on shows like “The Bachelor”. When meeting Matt James for the first time, Abigail immediately shared about her hearing loss and how she hears, opening a conversation about self-advocacy for people with hearing loss around the world.
See what some cochlear implant recipients think of her appearance on the show
We asked some cochlear implant recipients what Abigail’s journey on “The Bachelor” means to them, and what their perspective is on hearing loss, self-advocacy and dating in today’s world.
What does it mean to you to have someone who wears cochlear implants be on a huge show like “The Bachelor”?
Caroline S.: “I have watched “The Bachelor” franchise pretty religiously since middle school, so it is beyond amazing to see hearing loss represented on a show I care so much about. It is an added bonus that Abigail is an amazing person, so the audience will be much more open to listening to her story and her experience with cochlear implants. Also, I am very curious to hear about Abigail’s journey with her hearing loss and her cochlear implants as she (hopefully) gets more screen time throughout the season.”
Caroline Y.: “First of all, I am a HUGE fan of ‘The Bachelor’ franchise. Every Monday night, my friends and I grab some wine, relax on the couch and get right into live tweeting. It is truly a great respite from a busy week. With that said, it means the world to have Abigail on the show! Not only is her participation affirming and normalizing cochlear implants, it proves that cochlear implant recipients can do anything, whether it is swimming, singing or finding love on ‘The Bachelor’ — the sky’s the limit!”
How do you think Abigail’s journey on the show will shape future opportunities for people who have hearing loss?
Caroline S.: “More than anything, I think Abigail’s journey on the show will educate the public on the range of abilities within the hearing loss community. Many people associate deafness with a reliance on ASL, and while that is true for many people with hearing loss, Abigail represents a different side of the community whose everyday functioning more closely resembles that of a regular hearing person. As more people become aware of the diversity within the hearing loss community, I hope more opportunities arise for further education about how people can assist hearing loss people and organizations near them.”
Caroline Y.: “Abigail’s journey on the show has already sparked so much positive interest, which warms my heart. Sometimes, it is hard to explain to someone how you are deaf but can still hear and speak and having someone like Abigail on such a huge show can clear up that confusion. By sharing her story, while not generalizable to everyone, she has managed to educate and advocate the needs and opportunities for those who are in the hearing loss community through her actions, such as informing Matt that she may read his lips. I saw that there was a huge spike in searches of cochlear implants when the first episode of Matt James’ season aired, which is just a great example of why representation matters. I don’t think I really know anyone who is profoundly and prelingually deaf with cochlear implants in the entertainment space, so I am sure Abigail’s presence will shape future opportunities in that industry.”
Have you gotten more questions about your cochlear implants and hearing since she joined the show?
Caroline S.: “I have not gotten a lot of questions about my cochlear implants since Abigail joined ‘The Bachelor’, but I think I will start to get more questions as Abigail dives deeper into her story. I believe the main reason I haven’t gotten many questions about my cochlear implants is because most of the people I know who watch the show know me well enough to have already asked me most of the questions that may arise while watching. However, I know many of my friends reached out to me when Abigail introduced herself on the show to say something along the lines of ‘Abigail is literally you’ because we both have cochlear implants.”
Caroline Y.: “I have gotten more questions since Abigail joined the show, but mostly it has been people that already knew me. They would reach out and ask, ‘Doesn’t Abigail have what you have?’ However, while getting coffee the other day, I had my hair up in a way that my cochlear implant sound processors were visible. One girl approached me and asked if I had seen ‘The Bachelor’. What launched was a great conversation on cochlear implants and she told me how her grandfather was considering one. We talked about how we were both rooting for Abigail!”
How do you advocate for your hearing needs in new situations, like dating someone new?
Caroline S.: “Advocating for my hearing needs really depends on the situation. I tend not to lead with it because I personally do not need a lot of accommodations in everyday conversation or activities. In fact, many of my acquaintances are surprised to learn of my hearing loss when it eventually comes up. In the show, Abigail led with her hearing loss because she wanted Matt to know she would need to rely heavily on lip reading. Based on my own abilities, I probably would have waited until later in the night to bring it up, especially if I wasn’t having trouble up until then. Situations in which I tend to inform others of my hearing loss upfront include in the classroom with my professors and in new living situations with roommates.”
Caroline Y.: “Having cochlear implant sound processors is a unique life experience, and dating is all about sharing life experiences with another person, so I think dating is especially fun and special for cochlear implant recipients. I like to embrace the surprise when a guy doesn’t even realize that I have cochlear implants until I tell him – that is always a fun conversation. I advocate for my hearing needs by always asking to be in a quieter place, using closed captioning and being proud of my cochlear implants. Can’t wait to tune in this Monday night!”
Continue reading with a story about two cochlear implant recipients who fell in love.1