‘The Bachelor’: Abigail Heringer Was Not the First Contestant with a Disability on the Show

Many fans have called for The Bachelor to increase its diversity within the contestant pool. Fans want the show to be a more realistic version of what dating in the United States looks like. This season, the audience celebrated the arrival of Abigail Heringer, who is deaf and uses a cochlear implant for hearing. However, some have mistakenly celebrated her as the first contestant with a disability on the show. Read on to find out which contestant really was.

Matt James and Abigail Heringer on ‘The Bachelor’ Season 25 Episode 2 in 2021.
Matt James and Abigail Heringer on ‘The Bachelor’ Season 25 | Craig Sjodin via Getty Images

Abigail Heringer has been a frontrunner since the start

Abigail and Matt James instantly connected on his season of The Bachelor. Matt was so impressed with Abigail that he gave her the first impression rose. This made sure that she would stay another week.

Matt said Abigail was doing everything that he was asking from the contestants — being vulnerable.

“I’m on cloud nine right now,” Abigail said after she got the first impression rose of the season. “The fact that he sees potential in me is just, I don’t know, it makes me really excited.”

She is not the first contestant with a disability on the show

RELATED: ‘The Bachelor’: Abigail Heringer Revealed Why She Told Matt James Early on About Her Hearing Impairment

Abigail has stood out on the show for opening up about her feelings toward her disability. She had a deep conversation with Matt about her insecurities, which allowed him to understand her more.

“If I were to have a family, there is a really strong possibility that my kids would be deaf,” she revealed to the lead. “My birth dad did walk out on my mom and my sister right after we got our cochlear implants.”

Abigail then spoke about how her relationship with her dad has affected her insecurities moving forward.

“In no way do I view my hearing loss as baggage, but when you have what should’ve been one of the most important people in your life walk out, it’s hard not to feel if I fully open up myself to somebody, are they going to do the same thing,” she wondered.

Matt responded to Abigail’s concern by opening up about growing up without his father in his life.

“The things that you’re saying is a barrier and a roadblock, those are things that I look at you and I admire about you, and are encouraging to me about what a future with you would look like,” he said. “That’s how I feel with you.”

Abigail’s honest conversation about her insecurities regarding her disability isn’t new to the franchise. Abigail is the first deaf contestant, but she isn’t the first contestant with a disability to be on The Bachelor.

This was the first contestant with a disability on ‘The Bachelor’

Back in 2013, Sarah Herron competed on Sean Lowe’s season of The Bachelor. Sarah was then a 26-year-old advertising executive in LA who came on the reality dating show. She was the first contestant to be on the show with a visible disability who spoke up about her experience.

Sarah had a vulnerable conversation with Sean about being born with one arm early on in the production process.

“I don’t want to make you uncomfortable, and I don’t want anyone else to feel uncomfortable about talking to me about that,” she started. “I was born with one arm. I’m really open to talking about it and I don’t want to be perceived as ‘disabled.'”

Sarah continued, “I might feel a little different and unique, but at the end of the day, I have the same heart. I just don’t want you to feel uncomfortable, and I just want to clear the air.”

Sean assured Sarah that he never felt uncomfortable with her and enjoyed talking with her. While Sean and Sarah didn’t end up together, she continued her reality TV career after he eliminated her in week six. Sarah appeared on Bachelor in Paradise in season one and season three, but she didn’t stay with anyone from the show longterm.

Hopefully, with both Sarah and Abigail being contestants vocal about their disabilities on the show, the franchise will start to include an even more diverse contestant pool in the future.