Casting Matt James as The Bachelor isn't the only way the show is breaking ground this season. Season 25's Abigail Heringer is also one of the first hearing impaired Bachelor contestants, and the first on the U.S. iteration of the series. According to the Salem Statesman Journal, Oregonian Abigail has congenital hearing loss and received a cochlear implant at two years old. Now 25, she works as a client financial analyst for an event company.
According to the Statesman Journal, Abigail broke the news to her parents over the summer that she applied for The Bachelor on a whim. Her mom Suzie Heringer told the outlet that she wasn't expecting that from her daughter, especially when she learned that she'd included her hearing impairment on her application. "I was surprised she was willing to share her story about her hearing loss," her mom said. "It's something she usually doesn't talk much about."
In addition to including it on her application, it sounds like she also opens up about her disability on the show. "Abigail has an incredible story to tell," host Chris Harrison teased in a contestant introduction video. He added that she quickly became one of his personal favorite contestants due to her genuine personality and how much she was there for those impenetrable ~right reasons~.
According to her Bachelor bio, Abigail is looking to find a guy that she can get to know on a "deeper level" and someone who can fit in with her close-knit family. Her bio describes her as "laid-back" and "easygoing," so perhaps she won't get caught up in the usual Bachelor drama.
And while her mom said that she doesn't think going on TV is "a great way to meet your forever person," she is hopeful that Abigail's story will help others. "With her disability, if that can impact one other person, it's worth sharing the story," her mom said.
The Bachelor franchise is infamously pretty lacking when it comes to diversity of any kind, but Abigail is helping to change that. She's the second person who has been vocal about a disability to be cast on the show after Sarah Herron first appeared back on Sean Lowe's 2013 season. Sarah was born without the lower third of one of her arms. She's since used her platform from the show to found the charity SheLift, dedicated to empowering women with physical disabilities.
Now Abigail will be sharing her own story on The Bachelor, and Harrison hinted that she makes a big impression on Matt James. He'd better come to play if he wants to make a similar impression on this outdoorsy Oregonian.