Roger Stewart was born premature and with a congenital hearing impairment, yet verbal communication was practiced all around him. His entire family, school classmates, and sports teammates interacted as usual. Although Roger could pick up some sounds, he was often left feeling isolated and alone, but Widex Moment hearing aids changed everything.
As his hearing continued to deteriorate, so did his speech. Sign language and lip reading quickly became his choice communication methods as he bounced from school to school. Although Roger did wear hearing aids, at the time, he found them more nuisance than asset. “It was still difficult to pick up on all the subtle sounds that are so important to conversations, and I ended up feeling frustrated that they couldn’t deliver the experience I desperately wanted,” he said.
Wrestling Uncovers Amazing Opportunity
From high school onwards, wrestling became Roger’s outlet. For the first time, his hearing loss had no impact on his performance. “It actually turned out to be an advantage,” he says. Once he removed his hearing aids—they are prohibited for safety reasons—all background noise disappeared.
“Without any distractions, I could focus only on wrestling, which made me a better competitor. The only downside was I couldn’t hear the whistle to signal the match’s end,” Roger relates.
Fast forward 25-or-so years, and Roger’s still at it. He coaches wrestling students at his local high school and competed with the 2022 US Deaflympics wrestling team. The Deaflympics are an International Olympic Committee (IOC)-sanctioned event at which deaf athletes compete at an elite level.
Hearing Sounds for the First Time Fosters Independence and Family Togetherness
“He’s worn the same hearing aids for over ten years, so it was definitely time for an upgrade,” says Roger’s wife Raichael. “His reaction after putting them in was priceless. The look on his face was as if he was hearing for the first time.” Roger confirms the dramatic improvement. “I’m able to hear sounds I’ve never heard before. Everything sounds clearer and more natural, not muffled like my old hearing aids.”
In fact, Roger’s hearing was so improved, that it took some time to adjust. “Roger has spent his entire life hearing only bits and pieces, so he sometimes says there’s too much noise,” Raichael relates. “I could do without hearing the rattle in the car or the kids getting rowdy,” Roger jokes. “Sadly, I can no longer ignore when the car needs to go to the shop.” He attributes these moments to the advanced PureSound technology built into Widex MOMENT hearing aids. “I’m much more aware of my surroundings. People no longer need to stand directly in front of me so I can hear them. It makes it harder for them to talk behind my back!”
Roger is stepfather to Raichael’s four children, and everyone has noticed a dramatic shift in even the simplest family routines. Car rides, doctor’s appointments, evening walks, social events, and even wrestling matches, are easier for everyone. “Talking with each other in the car had always been difficult because we couldn’t turn our heads to look at each other, but now Roger can keep his eyes on the road and still be in on conversation,” Raichael says. “Roger now also attends doctor’s appointments on his own because he can hear what the physician is saying even under a mask.” Adds Roger, “when you can’t read lips and sound is muffled through a mask, understanding what’s said is nearly impossible.”
What Roger loves most about life with his new hearing aids, though, is clearly defining the tones and subtle nuances of his stepchildren’s voices and the opportunity to communicate with Raichael on a whole new level. “Communication is key to every good relationship. Roger and I wouldn’t be able to achieve this without Widex MOMENT. Now we can build an even tighter communication bond together and with the kids,” Raichael says.
New Beginnings and Helping Others
Reflecting on his incredible journey as a hearing-impaired person pre- and post-Widex, Roger says. “My stepchildren learned at a very young age to accept disabled people and to ‘listen with their eyes and see with their ears,’” he says. “Having a dad with a hearing impairment has been good for them, especially for my son, who has a speech impediment. Together, we learned how to overcome obstacles and find ways to communicate with each other.”
Roger and Raichael are eager to explore this next chapter in the story, confident that Widex MOMENT hearing aids will help open doors and introduce new opportunities. “We consider ourselves very fortunate and blessed to have these remarkable hearing aids, and now it’s our turn to give back,” Raichael says. Roger hopes to share his story with others, offering inspiration and hope to families dealing with similar struggles. But first, new sounds and experiences await.
Watch Roger’s story here.