As we wrap up summer and the fall months rapidly approach, travel adventures await several Boomers. Although these adventures will undoubtedly be enjoyable, quality of life and travel is directly related to the quality of communication; as aging occurs, hearing can often be the first to fade away unnoticed.
See Also: How Big of a Problem is Hearing Loss?
As Boomers/we approach retirement, 1 in 6 will experience hearing loss. By the time we’ve reached 65, it’s 1 in 3 and by 85 years old, 1 in 2 Boomers will be hard of hearing. Whether it’s due to noise, ototoxic drugs*, or simple age related hearing loss, the number of Americans who are hard of hearing is increasing. Here are five tips to ensure you avoid any communication-related mishaps and understand everything worth hearing during your travels this summer season.
Book Hearing-Accessible Accommodations
One of the best steps you can take to ensure a seamless vacation is planning ahead to book accommodations, trains, buses, etc. that are hearing accessible.
According to the ADA, hotels of certain sizes are required to provide a certain level of accessibility for the hard of hearing including closed captioning television, accessibility kits, and in some cases, rooms and buildings equipped with loop technology. Examples of looped travel facilities include the Grand Rapids, MI airport, and a special program of the Michigan DOT and Indian Trails motor coaches. For additional information, Loop America provides a comprehensive list of looped facilities across the U.S.
Should your travel plans take you overseas, the adoption rate of hearing loop technology among European countries is widespread with several resources offering comprehensive lists of looped hotels.
There are several items you can pack to allow for seamless travel. This includes a vibrating alarm clock as wake-up calls and regular alarm clocks can go unheard, a portable visual alert system - which can be purchased online, and extra batteries and supplies for hearing aids.
Hearing loss is an “invisible” condition and can often go undetected and unaddressed. Because of this, it is essential you inform flight attendants, train conductors, bus drivers, and agents that you have a hearing loss. Oftentimes, they are equipped with a hearing assistance system or loop technology. At the very least, they will speak more clearly, lip-reading will be possible, or you will be notified in person when it is time to board or exit.
Look for the International Symbol of Hearing Access
When in a “looped” facility, with a simple push of a button, you can hear significantly clearer allowing for a more desirable experience. Over seventy percent of hearing aids are equipped with telecoils, which allow users to hear clearly in noisy surroundings. Hearing loops can be found in airports, train ticket booths, taxis, concert halls, museums, churches, and auditoriums, among other venues. The national movement, “Let’s Loop America” is leading the initiative to enable hearing access through hearing aid compatible assistive technology; a movement that is prevalent throughout the UK and Scandinavian countries, where hearing access is part of the fabric of the culture.
Be an advocate
First and foremost, use and thank businesses that are hearing accessible. Although you may not see the hearing loop symbol, always ask key personnel if the facility has been looped. Consumers can be the key advocates in raising awareness and encouraging businesses to loop their facilities by simply showcasing the interest and need for induction loops (hearing loops).
Hearing loops can be retroactively fitted into venues at an affordable cost, so it’s never to late for a facility to become hearing accessible! You can learn more about hearing loops online at “Let’s Loop Seattle” or find us on Facebook or Twitter.
*Ototoxic drugs are often common medications that can hurt one’s hearing. Aspirin is a good example. See hearingloss.org for more information.