shayla jackson

Hearing Aids For Teens

Shayla Jackson, who has lived with a hearing impairment since she was 3, is now competing for the 2020 Miss Teen USA crown. Shayla Jackson may be young, but she already knows the power of embracing what makes her different.

Jackson, 18, recalls how she was diagnosed with a hearing impairment that required her to get hearing aids at just 3 years old. Despite living with the condition for nearly her entire life, she tells PEOPLE she never let it stop her from achieving her dreams.

“My hearing loss is not a disability, it’s an ability,” Jackson says. “I hate that these types of things have to be put with the word ‘disability’ because even though you may have it, it doesn’t prevent you from doing things you want to do.”

After being crowned Miss Georgia Teen USA last year, the Valdosta resident will next compete for the Miss Teen USA title at Elvis Presley’s Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee on Saturday. She’s hoping that by sharing her story on a national level, it will not only inspire people like her, but also encourage others to change the way they use the word “disability.”

“I’m doing things that I’ve never dreamed of myself doing,” she says. “It’s so crazy how people feel held back because of things, but the sky’s the limit and you just have to push for it, and I want to be that person to say that and to show them that.”

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