Technology company surprises Ga. beauty queen with gift of hearing

The company Starkey gifts pageant queen hearing aids.
The company Starkey gifts pageant queen hearing aids.(Source: WALB)
Published: Feb. 8, 2021 at 1:29 PM CST
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VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - Miss Georgia Teen USA 2019, Shayla Jackson, has lived with a hearing impairment since she was 3-years-old.

Her mother said she put her in pageants as a way to express herself.

She became an advocate for people with hearing loss and other disabilities.

“I know that there is a stigma around people with hearing loss or hearing disability, but you honestly have to embrace it no matter what. Once you start embracing your hearing loss, you start to believe that you can do anything you set your mind to. It took me a while to be able to believe that but since then I have every challenge, every challenge that I have I break through them no matter what. So I feel like if you start embracing it and you love yourself for what you have, then you can break all those barriers,” said Jackson.

Jackson collaborated with a children’s book author and artist to share her story.

The company Starkey gifts pageant queen hearing aids.
The company Starkey gifts pageant queen hearing aids.(Source: WALB)

“When I wear My Crown: Shayla’s Story” aims to inspire kids with disabilities.

A hearing technology company, Starkey, learned about Jackson.

Field Audiologist, Kate Marr, was sent to deliver a surprise.

“What an advocate to be able to talk about hearing loss and hearing awareness, and how special even those things certain people would view as disabilities and how special she can say this is my ability and this is the crown I wear,” said Marr.

Marr says it’s a wonderful feeling to see someone’s face light up when they can hear better.

The new technology allows Jackson to change settings through an app, automatically connect to her laptop for zoom classes, take phone calls, and more.

“She can tap on her hearing aids and no matter what environment she’s in, no matter how hard it is for her to hear in that environment, a simple tap on her hearing aid, the hearing aid does an instant boost of understanding for her,” said Marr.

Dr. Jenny Carroll has been Jackson’s audiologist since she first received hearing aids.

She says this year has been tough on those with hearing disabilities.

“So when people have a hearing pattern like that, oftentimes, they will say ‘I can hear you, I just can not understand you,” said Dr. Carroll.

Dr. Carroll says Jackson’s hearing impairment allows her to hear some sounds but not understand with clarity what someone is saying.

She says the new aids will allow for better sound quality and help Jackson stay connected much easier.

“Even after I give up my crown, you don’t have to have a crown to be able to advocate for something like this. I’ll always be advocating for hearing loss and other disabilities,” said Jackson.

Jackson is learning how to become an audiologist at Valdosta State University.

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