Abigail Heringer, a 25 year old financial analyst from Portland, Oregon, will be among the group of women competing in the show’s 25th season featuring bachelor Matt James
Heringer was born with congenital hearing loss, according to her mother, who talked about her daughter’s participation on the show with The Statesman Journal.
“I was surprised she was willing to share her story about her hearing loss,” Heringer’s mom, Suzie, told The Statesman Journal. “It’s something she usually doesn’t talk much about.”
Although not visible on her contestant photo, Heringer wears a cochlear implant, according to her mother.
Cochlear implants are surgically implanted devices that allow people with severe hearing loss the opportunity to have a renewed sense of sound. While not everybody is eligible for the surgery, the technology has provided a breakthrough for millions of people with hearing loss who wish to hear again. In the U.S., more than 58,000 adults and 38,000 in children wear cochlear implants. These numbers have surely increased in the years since, particularly since children are now getting them at 12 months of age (if not earlier).
Heringer received her when she was two years old, according to her mother.
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Her older sister, Rachel, also has hearing loss and uses a cochlear implant, according to the news report.
Along with Heringer’s hearing loss, Season 25 of The Bachelor will showcase diversity with the Bachelor himself. In what many fans see as “long overdue,” Matt James will become the show’s first Black bachelor. (In the 40 seasons of “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” there has only been one other Black lead; bachelorette Rachel Lindsay from Season 21.)
The show’s diversity has recently come under fire for its lack of diversity. A petition called “A Campaign for Anti-Racism on The Bachelor” currently has more than 162,000 signatures.
Differently-abled contestants on the show are even more rare.
In 2017, “The Bachelor” New Zealand featured Lily McManus, a model with hearing loss. She was also scheduled to appear on the “Bachelor in Paradise” Australia, this year, according to The Daily Mail.
Suzie Heringer, told The Statesman Journal that Abigal’s hearing loss may have improved her chances of getting cast on the show. But, she said she didn’t view it as a bad thing.
“With her disability, if that can impact one other person, it’s worth sharing the story,” she said.
Filming of Season 25 of “The Bachelor” is taking place at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Pennsylvania. The show will air on ABC in 2021.