Whether visiting friends and family or exploring new vacation spots, hearing aids can improve your experience by leaps and bounds. With 15% of Americans suffering from hearing loss, any major destinations will have accommodations in place. With a bit of preparation and communication, you’ll be sure to have an unforgettable time.
Research your Destinations
Hotels, museums and even some restaurants have technologies in place to assist the hearing impaired. The Americans with Disabilities Act mandates that hotels and motels accommodate those with hearing loss. Hotels might have visual alarm clocks or telephones that are hearing-aid compatible. Some rooms may be specially equipped for the hearing impaired, so make sure to let them know your situation at the time of making your reservation.
Major museums will provide headsets or neck loops on request for special events or for audio-guided tours. You can find out about this on the museum’s website or by calling ahead. You might also want to look up the names of the region’s historical figures and architecture so you won’t be hearing these words for the first time; you’ll have an easier time picking them out of conversation if you know you’ll be hearing them.
Some restaurants are creating quiet zones where the hard of hearing can be less distracted by background noise, and training servers in communicating better with patrons with hearing loss. Some people have created phone apps, usually city-specific, to list restaurants with the best experiences offered to the deaf or hard of hearing. SoundPrint, in New York, is one such app. Hotel front desk attendants can usually recommend a quiet place to eat, as well.
You’ll need to be able to care for your hearing aids while traveling just as much as at home. Bring extra cleaning supplies, batteries, chargers and tubing. It’s better to have too much than not enough! If traveling internationally, make sure to have the appropriate electrical outlet converter for your chargers.
Clean your hearing aids thoroughly every night and keep them in their protective case. Hearing aids can gather dust and bacteria more easily when you’re out and about while traveling, so take extra care in keeping them clean.
Have an assistive listening device, such as an FM system or pocket talker, at the ready so you can have a tour guide’s voice transmit directly to your hearing aids.
Be Your Own Best Advocate
Despite the best of planning and advance notice that you might need some extra service, you might find that you’re not able to hear properly in some situations. Always speak up for yourself if you find this happening. Hearing loss is invisible and easily forgotten about by those around you, so don’t be afraid to remind service workers of your needs. Ask them to face you when speaking if necessary so you can read their lips.
If you’re flying, remember that you don’t need to remove your hearing aids when passing through airport security, though TSA does recommend notifying security officers before the beginning of your screening process. You may also wish to let nearby passengers and flight attendants know that you may have difficulty hearing announcements, and ask them to let you know if there’s something you should be aware of.
Lean on Technology
Aside from the SoundPrint app mentioned above, there are lots of apps to facilitate your travel experience. Airlines, train and bus companies, car rental agencies and more will have associated apps that can notify you when your reservations are approaching or if the schedule changes.
Modern cars are building in technology to assist the hearing impaired as well, so be sure to look into what your car can do to assist you. If you’re going to be renting a car, call ahead to the rental company to see if they have vehicles they can prioritize for the hard of hearing. If you use a clip-on wide-angle rear view mirror, consider bringing it on your trip to use in your rental car.
By keeping a few things in mind and remembering to speak up for yourself, traveling with hearing aids doesn’t have to be a problem. You can be sure to enjoy yourself as you did before having hearing issues, and keep making memories into the future!