By Dr. Noël Crosby, Au.D.
The summer travel season is almost upon us. Whether for business or vacation, traveling can be as stressful as it is enjoyable, and for the more than 20 million people in the U.S. with hearing loss, travel can be especially difficult. If you are a hearing aid user there are a few things you should consider when creating your travel plans. The following list includes those items that you should bring with you when vacationing or traveling.
. Basic maintenance tools such as wax picks and brushes.
. A carrying case to protect your hearing aids anytime they’re out of your ears.
. A dehumidifier to protect your hearing aids from moisture – especially if you’re travelling to a humid climate.
. A stock of extra parts such as tubing and domes. Extra batteries.
. A copy of your audiogram, along with your audiologist’s phone number.
. Accessories such as portable phone amplifiers, vibrating alarm clocks and devices to help with hearing the TV.
. A spare hearing aid – if you have one – but make sure it’s working.
. To prevent loss, avoid storing your hearing aid equipment in checked luggage.
There are many travel arrangements that can be made that will provide less stress when you are travelling. Some of these are:
Try to make all travel arrangements in advance. Once your transportation arrangements have been made, request a written confirmation to ensure that all information is correct. Always inform whomever you are making the arrangements with that you are hearing-impaired.
If at all possible, meet with a travel agent to allow the opportunity for lip reading, or if necessary, written exchange to help confirm travel plans. Agents can then contact airlines, hotels, and attractions to make necessary reservations and also inform them that you are hearing impaired.
Travel information and reservation services are also available on the internet. Be sure to print copies of important information such as confirmation numbers, reservations, and maps. Keep copies of your travel arrangements, including confirmation numbers, easily available.
Try to arrive early at the airport, bus terminal, or train station. Inform the agent at the boarding gate that you are hearing-impaired and need to be notified in person when it’s time to board.
Check the display board repeatedly while waiting in the terminal to confirm your flight destination and departure time as there may be delays or the departure gate may change. Confirm the flight number and destination before boarding.
Inform the senior flight attendant that you are hearing-impaired and request that any in-flight announcements be communicated to you in person. Requesting an aisle seats can allow easier communication with the flight staff.
Do not be afraid to ask for help from fellow travelers. Most are more than willing to offer assistance.
It is important to know that in most cases, hearing aids worn on or in the ears will not set off the alarms during security screening at airports. Keeping the hearing aids on will allow you to communicate with the security officers during screening. It is ok to ask a security officer if it would be advisable to take your hearing aids off; however, body worn hearing aids and personal listening devices may contain enough metal parts that they should be packed in your carryon bag. If the security scanner is operating correctly it will not harm your hearing aids or other related devices.
Many major airlines and transportation companies have Telecommunication Devices for the Deaf (TDD) services to assist passengers. Hand-held personal communication devices provide the ability to send and receive text messages without the need to access public resources.
Once you arrive at your hotel, notify hotel personnel of your hearing impairment and request that you be informed of any emergency. Become familiar with the “A.D.A. Requirements for Services and Aids for People Who Have Hearing impairments or Deafness”. You should check in advance to find out if your hotel is in compliance with A.D.A.
In advance of your trip, contact your local organization for the hearing impaired for the address of a possible counterpart agency at your travel destination. This agency will likely have a TTY and interpretation service, if one is needed.
It is important to remember, that in many cases, hearing impairment is invisible to those around you; this means that the people around you are unaware of your hearing impairment. I can’t stress enough the importance, at every step of your travels, to let key personnel know about your hearing impairment so that proper arrangements can be made that will ensure your enjoyment and safety while traveling or vacationing.
Dr. Noël Crosby, Au.D., owner and audiologist at Advanced Hearing Solutions in Englewood, FL is a licensed professional whose 26 year career has been devoted to helping people of all ages hear and understand more clearly. Dr. Crosby received her BS and MS degrees from FSU and her Doctorate in Audiology from UF. Her credibility as an authority grew during her tenure as the Director of Audiology at the Silverstein Institute in Sarasota, FL from 1991-1998. Today, in addition to managing a successful audiology practice, Dr. Crosby is involved in creating hearing loss awareness through her jewelry and accessory company AuDBling.com. She has served and is serving on various professional boards and committees and was president of the Florida Academy of Audiology in 2000 and 2010. She has been married to Michael for 23 years and has one daughter.
For more information contact Noël’s office at 941-474-8393 or you can visit her website at www.advancedhearingsolutions.net.