Thursday, May 17, 2012

Don't Let Hearing Loss Keep You Home

The beach is my favorite destination!

It's almost summer time and many people are thinking about how to spend their vacation. In the U.S. gas prices are high and air travel is a hassle, so I can understand if some choose to stay close to home. But I don't want anyone to use hearing loss as an excuse not to see new places! With a little planning and self assertiveness, you can get where you want to go.

Can you see the palm trees
reflected in the window?

Last Saturday, I attended a seminar on travel tips for people with hearing loss by Tina Childress, an audiologist who's late deafened and wears bilateral cochlear implants. I'd like to share a few of the many things that I learned from her and offer my own thoughts and experiences.

For Travel by Airplane
  • Don't pack any hearing aid or cochlear implant equipment in your checked luggage. The scanner for this luggage is much stronger than the one for carry-on bags. I've had my luggage lost before, so I never put anything of value in there.
  • It's OK to walk through the metal detector with hearing aids or ear level CIs. But a body worn CI has more metal and may set off an alarm. I've wondered about the effect of metal detectors on my hearing aids and even asked security staff if it was OK... but even though they gave me the go ahead, I always felt a little leery about it. I never had any damage or problems occur, but I feel better knowing from a hearing professional that it's all right.
  • When you reach your gate, let the staff at the desk know you have a hearing loss so you can be informed in case of delays, gate changes, or other announcements. It's in your best interest to sit as close as possible to the desk to make it easy for them to find you. I have not actually approached airline personnel about my hearing loss, although I do sit as close as I can to the desk. Now that I know Tina has done this, I will be more assertive myself.
  • Hearing aids and CIs will not interfere with the plane's navigational instruments and do NOT need to be removed during takeoff and landing. I don't like to wear my hearing aids on a plane because of the engine noise. I was surprised to hear from Tina that occasionally cochlear implants are mistaken for Bluetooth devices and the difference has to be explained. By the way, if you ever meet Tina yourself, be sure and ask about her Redtooth story - it's hilarious!
For Travel by Automobile
  • Turn on the light at night for better lipreading. I wasn't sure that was legal. Good to know!
  • Purchase an extra wide rear-view mirror which eliminates blind spots and reduces headlight glare. That sounds like just what I need! That's a good tip for everyone in fact.
General Tips
  • When traveling alone on a plane, train, or bus you may want to let the person sitting next to you know about your hearing loss in case an emergency announcement is made. I might do that if the person were friendly or solicitous, but for me it would definitely depend on the person! Some people make me feel uncomfortable. Use your gut instinct on this.
  • Bring along the customer service number for your hearing aid/cochlear implant manufacturer. If you need a new part, you can get one shipped to your travel location. I had never thought of that. It would be very helpful to have that number looked up in advance. Just in case.

Tina is an outstanding speaker and there was much more than this to her presentation. If you ever get the chance to attend "Planes, Trains and Automobiles: Travel Tips for People with Hearing Loss" or any of her other workshops, I highly recommend it. 

I wish you all safe travels wherever you choose to go this summer. Do you have any plans made?


Ronzio Orecchio said...

While travelling some people who are facing hearing deformity make some mistakes like packing their hearing aids with other luggage.This post is informative and important for them as it will brought some changes in their life.

Kate said...

Excellent post, thanks for sharing those tips. It hadn't occurred to me either to bring the contact info for my daughter's hearing aid company when we travel.

I would love to read more about how people store their hearing aids while travelling - how to they pack them away at the beach, when they go in the water, etc.


Karen Putz said...

It was wonderful seeing you at this event!

Diana M Stewart said...

This is a really great post!

SpeakUp Librarian said...

Thank you, Diana.

SpeakUp Librarian said...

Hi Karen,
It was great to see you too! Wish we could have talked more. I'd like to know more about your new job.
Sarah site review said...

Avoid going near loud and harmful noise unless you’re serving in the army. Pubs, discos and rock concerts are fun places to hang around in, but their noise level has the potential to wreck your ear drums. So, enjoy all you like, but try and have fun in places with moderate, bearable noise.

SpeakUp Librarian said...

Dear readers, I seldom approve comments from websites or businesses due to spam, but the link above leads to a useful article about hearing loss so I am making an exception for this one.