PISCATAWAY, NEW JERSEY – From the WKRN TV studios in Nashville, Tennessee, Meaghan Thomas speaks to nearly three million people every day. But when the broadcast meteorologist posted recently on social media about overcoming hearing loss with hearing aids, the people spoke back. 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.”
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, 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. With enough awareness, so many more people could enjoy the benefits of enhanced hearing throughout their lives.”
Better Hearing with Friends and On-Set
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 explains. “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 hearing aids help make for much clearer communication.
“Voices sound much sharper and clearer,” she says. “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.”
Challenges of a Lip Reader
Growing up, before getting hearing aids, Thomas learned to read lips as a way of adapting. It wasn’t perfect, however. Thomas recalls 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 says. “So I’d just go to sleep.”
Thomas says the rechargeability of the hearing aids has also been among her favorite features. She uses the 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. This is where my hearing journey has brought me.”
Signia is one of the world’s leading hearing aid brands. We aim to enhance human performance through iconic innovations and consumer-friendly designs that shape the hearing health market. Since its launch in 2016, Signia has regularly brought world-first hearing solutions to the market and is a pioneer in rechargeable hearing technology.
In addition to highly innovative hearing aids, Signia also delivers tools and apps to increase customer interaction and engagement at all levels of hearing aid management. Signia, and its hearing care professionals, enable hearing aid wearers to not just correct hearing loss but to gain an edge – to Be Brilliant.