KT Maviglia is a former 2014 Miss Michigan beauty pageant winner, a current model, YouTube sensation and marketing expert, who was also diagnosed with hearing loss when she was in the fourth grade.
KT Maviglia: About her Childhood
Sitting in her Detroit elementary school classroom, KT stood out. She was beautiful and kind, but was also behind the learning curve and often mispronounced words or phrases being taught to her. It was these issues that caused her teacher to worry, and recommend she be taken to an audiologist. KT’s parents took her for a hearing assessment where she was immediately diagnosed with a sensorineural hearing loss at just nine years old.
In high school, Maviglia did everything she could to hide her hearing loss from peers, including refusing to wear hearing aids. She reports not caring that she had to work so much harder to compensate and earn good grades. At the time, all she wanted to do was fit in with everyone else, and hiding her hearing loss was, in her mind, the best way to do this (http://www.cm-life.com/article/2018/03/kt-maviglia-presentation ).
KT Maviglia: Becoming a Beauty Queen and Hearing Loss Advocate
It wasn’t until Maviglia became interested in the world of pageants that she even considered getting hearing aids again. As a pageant contestant, participants are required to have a topic for which they are an advocate. KT initially chose hospice, because she still insisted on keeping her hearing loss a secret.
According to the article (http://www.cm-life.com/article/2018/03/kt-maviglia-presentation ), it wasn’t until Maviglia had a chat with “someone”, that she was inspired to return to the audiologist and get hearing aids again. Seeing the astounding $5,000 price tag of the aids combined with the fact that insurance didn’t cover them – pushed KT into action. She immediately began advocating for hearing loss in her pageant competition and appearances, and later funded the KT Maviglia Fund for Hearing (https://www.ktmaviglia.com/hearing-advocacy/).
KT Maviglia: Fund for Hearing
Maviglia’s fund works to provide people aged 26 and younger with the financial assistance needed for hearing aids and other assistive technology. She admits that being in charge of the fund hasn’t always been easy, as she has had to listen to some very difficult and emotional stories. The tough stories don’t, however, scare her away. Maviglia says of the experiences, “It makes it all worth it when you go into the audiologist’s office, and you’re there, and you present a big check to a kid that literally would not have been able to hear without you”. To date, Maviglia’s fund has helped 15 children and young adults achieve the gift of hearing. “On one front, I’m just so thankful that I’m able to be that person for some people, but on another front, it makes me angry that I am sometimes the only option for people,” Maviglia said.
The anger Maviglia experiences over the lack of insurance coverage for hearing aids caused her to move even further than her hearing fund – onto legislation. Maviglia is currently working with a group of parents, audiologists, and a member of the Hearing Loss Association of America to get a bill passed to combat this issue. Bill 449 works to ensure insurance companies cover hearing aids for both ears and covers their replacement every three years for people under 26 years of age. Like most pieces of legislation, the bill is a slow moving process, but Maviglia reports being proud of the work she has done and the person she has become. We are proud of you too, KT!
KT Maviglia: Newfound Confidence and Acceptance
Although KT has not always accepted her hearing loss, that is certainly not the case today. “I just want to be a voice for people that don’t have one, that have a challenge speaking in general or that feel bad about themselves because they feel different about themselves,” Maviglia said. Maviglia wants people to be proud of their uniqueness and of who they are. She leads by example in this area. Maviglia reports she now struts into modeling casting calls wearing her hearing aids proudly – telling agents to “take her or leave her” as she is. She says, “It’s okay to be unique, to be quirky, to have these weird things about you.” (http://www.cm-life.com/article/2018/03/kt-maviglia-presentation) We couldn’t agree with you more, KT.
For more information on KT Maviglia, visit her website here: https://www.ktmaviglia.com/
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