What are the common issues?
A Singapore otolaryngologist explains that travellers with a hearing impairment may experience the following issues:
- You may not hear or comprehend what airlines say in their boarding or in-flight announcements.
- You may find it difficult to make reservations.
- You may not hear someone knocking on the door, hotel room telephones, or warning signals like a smoke alarm.
- You may find it troublesome to use smartphones, public phones, or hotel phones.
- You may not hear or comprehend what is being said in live performances, museum lectures, tours, planned activities, and other such scheduled events.
- There could be a lack of oral or sign language interpreters.
- There could be a lack of accommodation for hearing dogs accompanying you.
What arrangements can you make?
You may try making advance travel arrangements. You can ask for a written confirmation ensuring that all the information is correct. Please ensure to tell the ticket representative that you have an impaired hearing problem.
You may meet a travel agent, giving you an opportunity for lip reading. You can even consider exchanging written points to help confirm your travel plans. The agent can make necessary reservations on your behalf by contacting hotels and airlines.
You can also access reservation services and travel information on the Internet. Ensure to take printouts of important information like reservation details, maps, and confirmation numbers. You may keep the confirmation number and copy of travel arrangements handy.
It would help if you arrived early at the train station, bus terminal or the airport. Please inform the agent at the boarding gate that you are hard of hearing to notify you when it is time to board.
Please check the display board frequently when you wait in the terminal. Since there may be delays or changes in departure gates, it is better to repeatedly reconfirm your flight destination and departure time.
You can also inform the flight attendant that you are hard of hearing and request communication of in-flight announcements in person. Choose the aisle seat to ensure that you could communicate with the flight staff easily.
Finally, ask for help from fellow travelers who are usually happy to offer assistance.
How should you handle hearing aids while traveling?
Those who wear hearing aids must pack extra tubing at batteries as it may be challenging to obtain them at some places. You have to take a humidifier to dry your hearing aids every night. It will prevent moisture issues, particularly when your destination has a humid, warm climate.
Avoid keeping your hearing aid equipment in the checked luggage. You may keep an extra set of batteries in another bag to avoid total loss of hearing aid.
What are other resources available to you out there?
Several major airlines and transport companies offer TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) services to help their passengers.
Handheld devices like cell phones and smartphones feature the ability to communicate without accessing public resources. You may check the reservation website or ask your travel agent to see if such an option is available.
Nowadays, most public telephones feature a handset attachment called “blue grommet.” It indicates that the phone is compatible with the “T” switch, i.e., telephone program in hearing aid. Similarly, you may also find that there is an amplifying headset on some public phones. Alternatively, you may carry your pocket amplifier readily available from a hearing aid dispenser or an audiologist. Presently, smartphones can solve most of your problems. All brands are usually compatible with your hearing aids. Try searching for hearing aid compatible (HAC) phones on the Internet to get further information.
Your smartphone may also have pre-installed apps for traveling. They can store reservation details in email programs or apps. Some apps may feature real-time notifications or alerts to inform you of any changes in flight timings or provide maps with directions.
It would help if you carried printouts of lodge reservations with date and price information. You have to inform the front desk staff that you are hard of hearing because it is critical for emergencies.
Some prominent hotels now offer visual alert devices to enable you to recognize the telephone ring, a knock on your door, or even a fire alarm. Please get in touch with your hotel in advance to allow them to make the required arrangements.
You can do several things to make travel safer, enjoyable, and comfortable if you are hard of hearing. You need not avoid traveling because of hearing loss problems. A few quick tips to help your trip go smoothly include informing your fellow travelers, planning, and telling hotel and transport hosts you are hard of hearing. Finally, please ensure to get your necessary device to get going and enjoy travel.