One component of every day life that can be challenging for everyone, including for people with hearing loss, is travel – either domestically or abroad. But it needn’t be. There are a number of strategies that people with hearing loss can employ to make traveling easier, safer and less stressful.
1. Make copies of documents
This advice extends to everyone, regardless of hearing ability: It is helpful to plan ahead and book everything in advance if possible. Opting to “wing it” at the last minute – in terms of booking travel or accommodations – increases your risk of unexpected hurdles or miscommunication. It is also helpful to print out extra copies of any important documents that you may need – booking references, or airplane flight schedule, for example, or a receipt confirming your hotel stay.
“It is helpful to plan ahead and book everything in advance, if possible”
2. Inform the people helping with your travel arrangements
While planning your travel and accommodations, the American Academy of Otolaryngology advises letting any customer representatives know about your hearing loss, so they can make accommodations as necessary and inform you of services at your destination that may be available for people with hearing loss. If you are comfortable, consider mentioning your hearing loss to the flight attendant, so they can assist you if any announcements are made during the flight.
3. Consider travel alerts
Many airlines allow you to sign up for travel alerts sent via email or text directly to your mobile phone. This helps ensure you can be notified of changes directly, without having to rely on audio notices at the airport. Be sure to locate and refer to visual signs and notices for information at the airport terminal. Some tourist destinations, such as Disney World and Universal Studios, also offer text and email notifications alerting you to daily events and schedules.
4. Inquire about hearing loss accommodations
Hotels throughout the United States are required to offer accommodations for people with hearing loss, including door-knock signalers and visual alarms. Be sure to ask, as accommodations vary by hotel. Lodgings abroad may have different rules, so be sure to inquire when you check in.
5. Bring everything you might need for your assistive devices
According to AARP, it helps to be overprepared: If you wear a hearing aid you should bring everything you need for it, even if you are unlikely to use it, such as spare batteries and your drying and storage equipment. If you are heading overseas bring an adaptor for foreign outlets. These can be purchased at most electronic stores or at the airport prior to boarding.
6. Talk to security
Navigating the hectic and noisy line at security can be stressful for anyone, and particularly for those living with hearing loss. That’s why the AARP advised that you notify a security official that you have hearing loss, so that they can offer you extra assistance and guidance if you feel that it is necessary. Furthermore, having explained your situation to the security guard, unlike your shoes, belt and watch, it is possible to wear your hearing equipment while passing through the metal detector.
7. Speak to the flight attendant
Given that most important safety announcements on flights are delivered verbally over a speaker system, the American Academy of Otolaryngology explained that it is important to let your flight attendants know that you have hearing loss. Ask them to keep you updated personally with any changes you may need to know. It is also possible that the in-flight entertainment system will have accommodations such as closed captioning for the films and television shows, so be sure to ask. Not all airlines offer hearing loss provisions for their entertainment systems, so it’s helpful to bring movies to watch on your laptop, or some good books and magazines.
8. Choose hearing loss-friendly activities
If you are traveling for pleasure and are looking for things to do, be sure to do a little research before you travel about hearing loss-friendly attractions at your destination. Global cities such as Boston, San Francisco and New York City, for example, all have a plethora of activities and attractions which have provisions for those living with hearing loss. USA Today also advised asking tour guides for assistive listening devices and informing them of your hearing loss.