The Hearing Loss Association of America’s annual convention will be held June 23-26 in Washington DC. Whether you’ll be in town for the convention or simply visiting the nation’s capital soon, Washington DC offers plenty of attractions for people who have hearing loss:
View all of the monuments
The amount of astonishing architecture and monuments there are to view in Washington DC is exciting. In the mere 3 kilometers of the National Mall, you can view the Lincoln Memorial, the reflecting pool and the Washington Monument. Not far are the White House, the Supreme Court and U.S. Capitol Building.
The Lincoln Memorial is a staggering 19 feet tall. According to Sky Scanner, it looks like Abraham Lincoln is pointing with his left hand. It’s speculated that this is because sculptor Daniel Chester French wanted Lincoln to look like he was spelling out his initials in sign language. This could be true, because French had a son with hearing loss.
You can tour the Capitol Building and Supreme Court without prior arrangement for free, but if you’re interested in visiting the White House, you will have to make an arrangement at least 21 days in advance through your state’s member of Congress. You are able to request an interpreter when you make tour arrangements.
Visit a museum
Washington DC has such a rich history and culture, it’s no surprise that there are so many museums. Here are a few hearing loss friendly options in the nation’s capital:
- The National Air and Space Museum is one of the multiple free museums available to visit in Washington DC. The establishment offers a “Boeing Milestones of Flight” exhibit, allowing you to see some of the planes that broke new ground in aviation. You can also view robotic vehicles that wandered the face of the Moon and even check out the images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera that’s been in orbit since 2009. Like all Smithsonian museums, the National Air and Space Museum is accessible for people with hearing loss by offering captioning of exhibition videos and sign language interpretation with advance notice. The IMAX theaters also offer assistive listening devices and rear-window captioning.
- The Museum of American History is another Smithsonian museum that has a little bit for everyone, and there’s something to say about seeing so many parts of the country’s history in the nation’s capital. With over three million artifacts dating back to the 1700s, you’ll be astounded at what you’re seeing with your own eyes. It’s not all about things you’d study in history class, though. The Museum of American History also offers exhibitions of American musicians like Ray Charles and Frank Sinatra and even a limited-time political exhibit complete with historical 19th and 20th century ballot boxes. Some tours, like the Highlights Tour and various theater programs have assistive listening devices available for patrons with hearing loss.
See a show
The theater scene in Washington DC is very lively. Within the city’s 68 square miles, there are five theaters, all of which are gorgeous and hearing loss-friendly. They all offer infra-red sound systems and even narrated performances. The Ford’s Theatre that has live productions has incredible historical significance, as it’s where President Lincoln was assassinated. Other theaters in Washington DC include:
- The Kennedy Center: Performing arts.
- National Theatre: Performing arts, classic films.
- Folger Theatre: Performing arts.
- Warner Theatre: Concerts.
“H Street has become a hub of activity for people with hearing loss.”
The Washington Post H Street is one of the hippest areas in Washington DC. It’s a great place to go for food or drinks after a day of sightseeing. According to the Washington Post, H Street has also become a hub of activity for people with hearing loss.
“There’s been an interesting shift over the past five or six years,” Gallaudet University’s community liaison Fred Weiner signed to the Washington Post. “A lot of things happen to include deaf people in the neighborhood, without our help. It’s taken a life of its own.”
Since Gallaudet, a college for students who are deaf or hard of hearing, is located nearby, it’s no wonder that so many bartenders and servers are able to easily accommodate everyone. Many establishments in the area offer assistive technology and loop systems, raising awareness of the hearing loss community, as well as making communication easier for people with hearing loss. The Washington Post spoke to a few business owners on H Street, and reported that many establishments even require their employees to learn basic signs, like “thank you” and “hello.”
“We have people working at restaurants, but we can own the restaurants,” signed Derrick Behm to the Washington Post, who recently graduated from Gallaudet. “We can invest in the neighborhood.”