- Prepare in advance when making travel arrangements and inform the airline of your impairment.
- Request an aisle seat on flights, book accommodations in a quiet area, and research public transportation systems for assistive services.
- Pack hearing aids and accessories, extra batteries, a travel alarm clock or vibrate setting phone, and any essential medical documents.
- Invest in personal recording devices, and stock up on extra batteries and accessories for hearing aids.
Traveling is one of life’s greatest pleasures. But for those with hearing impairment, even the simplest of journeys can be a daunting experience. Being out of your comfort zone can be overwhelming, especially in an unfamiliar environment.
However, with the proper preparation and mindset, travel can still be a fantastic experience. Here are the top tips on traveling safely and smoothly with hearing impairment.
Prepare in advance
Traveling with hearing impairment requires careful planning. There are several things you should do to prepare in advance, such as:
When making travel arrangements, inform the airline well before your impairment so that the necessary arrangements can be made. Airlines like Southwest, Delta, and American Airlines offer special services for those with hearing impairments.
They can offer text messaging or email alerts to notify you of any announcements or changes in your flight status. Request an aisle seat so you are easily accessible to cabin crew and avoid distractions from other passengers. Remember to pack your hearing aids, any accessories, and extra batteries in a carry-on bag.
Book accommodations in a quiet area, away from potential noise sources like busy streets or elevators. Ensure that the hotel is aware of your hearing impairment and request accommodations that would make your stay more comfortable, such as vibrating alarm clocks or visual smoke detectors.
Some hotels, like Marriott and Hilton, also provide hearing aid-compatible telephones to ensure clear communication. Pack a travel alarm clock or use your phone with a vibration setting so you don’t oversleep.
Using public transportation in a new city can be daunting with a hearing impairment. Before traveling, research the public transportation system of your destination. Look for any assistive services the transportation system might have in place, or contact them in advance to inquire about your specific needs. If unsure, consider hiring a private transportation service. Request a driver who has experience working with those with hearing impairments.
Bring the necessary equipment to make your journey easier. Invest in a personal recording device for note-taking, and consider stocking up on extra batteries and accessories for your hearing aid. Make sure to pack all of your essential medical documents, such as prescriptions and doctor’s notes.
Bring backup technology
Even when you have made all the necessary arrangements, bringing backup technology is wise. The good news is that modern technology is here to save the day. Before embarking on your journey, you must have a backup plan for your assistive hearing device. You never know when your hearing aid may fail or you may lose your cochlear implant processors.
Having backup technology like a smartphone or laptop can help you stay connected and access critical software for the deaf and hearing-impaired. Screen reading software, speech recognition software, and video relay services are just a few examples of the tools that can make your travels smoother and easier.
Use visual cues
Visual aids can help you feel more at ease when traveling. Consider downloading maps or street plans in advance, using apps that offer visual cues, or even traveling with a companion who can help interpret your surroundings. In unfamiliar spaces, take note of visual cues like landmarks or particular buildings to remember where you have been or need to be.
Advocate for yourself
Sometimes people may be unaware of your hearing impairment, which can lead to misunderstandings. Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself and let others know you may need more time or a different communication method. You can ask them to speak more slowly, in front of a light background, or use notes or a computer to communicate. Remember, you don’t have to feel embarrassed or ashamed about your hearing impairment.
Be kind to yourself
Travel can be exhausting and confusing. Consider taking breaks when necessary and carving out moments of quiet time for yourself. You can self-advocate as much as you want, but there will still be moments when you can’t hear what others are saying or can’t follow along in the conversation. Use those moments to take a deep breath, take in your surroundings, or enjoy the moment. Traveling with hearing impairment takes more energy and attention, so being kind to yourself is important.
The Bottom Line
Traveling with hearing impairment is perfectly possible with the proper preparation and mindset. With these tips and tricks, you can make your next trip comfortable and enjoyable. Remember to prepare in advance, bring backup technology, use visual cues, advocate for yourself, and be kind to yourself. Above all, enjoy the experience!