From the WKRN TV studios in Nashville, Tennessee, Meaghan Thomas speaks to nearly three million people every day. But when Meaghan Thomas posted recently on social media about overcoming hearing loss with hearing aids, the people spoke back, hearing aid company Signia announced. Many had been dealing with the same challenges.
“I got so many messages from people of all ages with hearing loss – it was amazing,” Thomas said of the reaction to telling her social media followers she wore hearing aids. “They were grateful that I shared my story, and it made them feel like they could overcome the stigma of hearing aids and be anything they wanted to be.”
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In fact, Thomas has worn hearing aids her entire broadcasting career, beginning in 2014, but it wasn’t until recently that she decided to go public about her hearing loss and form a nonprofit organization, The Heart of Hearing, to encourage young professionals to seek help from an audiologist, acquire hearing aids, and push back against stigmas that otherwise prevent people from seeking hearing assistance.
According to the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), about 48 million Americans suffer some degree of hearing loss, yet the majority of those with hearing loss do not wear hearing aids.
“I’m the same person with hearing aids as I was before, but now I can engage more in life with better hearing, and I wanted to embrace that,” she explained. “With enough awareness, so many more people could enjoy the benefits of enhanced hearing throughout their lives.”
Today, Thomas’ hearing is enhanced more than ever. She was recently fitted with Signia Pure Charge&Go AX hearing aids, which are built on the Signa Augmented Xperience (AX) platform and “are the world’s first hearing aids to utilize two split processors to simultaneously enhance nearby sounds while de-emphasizing background noise.”
“With my new hearing aids, I’m able to hear what I need to hear without picking up unnecessary sound,” Thomas said. “It’s great to be in a restaurant and open the Signia app on my smartphone and instantly adjust my hearing aids’ settings to focus on the person in front of me. All the other noise goes away.”
Thomas has profound hearing loss in her left ear and severe hearing loss in her right. In all situations on-set at the studio, Thomas says, the Signia hearing aids make for much clearer communication.
“Voices sound much sharper and clearer,” she said. “I’ve been fortunate that everyone I work with has been understanding, but without my hearing aids, it would be harder to do my job. When I deliver the weather, I’m on the other side of a wall from the news anchors. I can’t see their faces or get visual cues, so being able to hear them this clearly, I’m able to play off what they’re saying.”
Growing up, before getting hearing aids, Thomas learned to read lips as a way of adapting. It wasn’t perfect, however. Thomas recalled sleepovers as a young girl and when the lights went out, she’d simply withdraw.
“My friends didn’t always understand, but if I couldn’t see their lips, it was hard for me to know what they were saying,” she said. “So I’d just go to sleep.”
Thomas said the rechargeability of the Signia Pure Charge&Go AX hearing aids has also been among her favorite features. She uses the sleek Pure portable charger to ensure her hearing aids are always charged — up to 36 hours on a single charge. She also uses Signia TeleCare on her smartphone to stay in touch with her audiologists Dr Randi Yontz and Dr Hannah Kostrzewski at Nashville’s Aspire Audiology & Hearing.
Through her foundation, The Heart of Hearing, Thomas plans to help people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s get the hearing assistance they need. People early in their adult lives are often hesitant to confront their hearing issues and some are unable to comfortably afford treatment and hearing aids.
“I want to help other people feel the relief I felt when I got hearing aids,” Thomas said. “This is where my hearing journey has brought me.”