Champion - Ashley Carter

Student • Future Occupational Therapist

From: Midland, TX

Experiencing Hearing Loss

When Ashley was born, her parents knew there was a possibility she could have hearing loss due to a hereditary condition in her family. After she failed her newborn hearing screening, Ashley's parents decided they would do whatever it took to help her hear better. She was fit with hearing aids at six weeks old and has been wearing them ever since

"My parents knew the importance of getting me fitted as soon as possible," says Ashley. "My dad wears them as do several of my family members. I think a great deal of my success is attributed to the early detection and treatment of my hearing loss."

For Ashley, life with hearing loss didn't stop her from doing anything she wanted to do! She graduated in the top 10% of her high school class and is now applying to graduate schools for occupational therapy. She says,

"Having a hearing loss made everyday life more difficult for me, but my parents always pushed me out of my comfort zone because they never wanted me to feel that I wasn't capable of achieving everything my peers were. They helped me to learn alternative ways to achieve my goals. I might have to work at them a little longer, but they taught me perseverance and I am forever grateful for that."

The Impact of Hearing Aids

A senior at Texas A&M University, Ashley has been able to accomplish great things and improve her relationships with the help of her hearing aids and her parents. She says,

"My hearing aids have helped fill in some of the gaps that connect me to life going on around me. I am able to communicate with others and function normally in most situations. With the help, support, and encouragement of my parents, I have been able to overcome many obstacles and do just about anything that I wanted to do. I was a competitive gymnast for seven years, played varsity volleyball for two years, and ran varsity track for three years. I had to learn some very creative ways to keep sweat out of my hearing aids.

As I have gotten older, the technology in my hearing aides have improved tremendously. These advancements have allowed me to connect with people more naturally. I am able to talk on the phone easier which helps to maintain long-distance relationships while I am away at school. Hearing in large crowds or places with a lot of background noise is always a challenge, but my newer aids do a better job of helping me focus on the person who is talking. I used to just ‘check out' when I found myself in group conversations, but I am finding that with some concentration, I can hold my own now."

Ashley's Advice

For someone who is unsure whether or not they are ready to treat their hearing loss, Ashley says,

"I can understand and sympathize with a person considering hearing aids for the first time - there is a lot to learn and there will certainly be a period of adjustment as you learn to hear in a new way, but I can also assure that person that the ability to hear and the connection with the world around you is a gift. I love being able to hear my friends and family tell me that they love me and that they are proud of me. I would encourage that person to ask a lot of questions and to not give up if they begin to feel frustrated. But if they give it a little time, they won't regret it."

During Super Bowl 51 weekend, Ashley was honored as a HearStrong Champion at the NFLPA PAF's Smocks and Jocks event.

Why Ashley is a HearStrong Champion

Ashley is a HearStrong Champion due to her perseverance and positive attitude. She has never let her hearing loss hold her back and she is a prime example for others with hearing loss.

"I am honored and humbled to named a HearStrong Champion," she says. "Because I have experienced some of the struggles that come with a hearing loss, I have compassion for others like me, but if my story can be used in any way to encourage someone else, I consider it a privilege to stand with them. I hope that people with see me and recognize a person who chose to pursue a life in spite of her limitations and who refuses to let it stand in the way of her dreams. If I can convince just one person to do the same, I will feel that I have made a difference."

Watch Ashley's Ceremony

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