Travel Tips for the Hearing Impaired
For the hearing impaired, traveling to a new or unfamiliar place can be stressful. But with a little advanced planning, you don’t have to let hearing loss hamper your travel plans. Follow these travel tips to make your next trip a safe and comfortable one.
Traveling by Plane
The crowds and noise of airplanes and airports make it difficult to navigate the terminals and hear announcements. Below are some ways to help you survive the commotion of air travel.
Sign Up for Notifications
Utilize your smartphone and sign up to receive visual notifications. Several airports offer text message alerts to keep passengers up to date on flight information. Similarly, many booking and travel sites allow you to sign up for email alerts. You can also download various travel apps that notify you of flight delays, cancelations, and gate changes.
If you don’t have access to a smartphone, stay updated with gate monitors. Around most arrival and departure gates you’ll find a bank of monitors displaying the status of current flights. The monitors also mirror all audio announcements so you never have to worry about missing important information.
Print a Disability Notification Card
When passing through security, you can keep your hearing aids on as long as you notify Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents that you’re wearing them. You can give agents verbal notification or show them your disability notification card.
Disability notification cards offer a discreet way to inform and educate security screeners of your hearing loss and other health conditions. Visit the TSA website to print and fill out a card before arriving to the airport. Once you reach the security checkpoint, show the card to the screening agent before passing through the scanners.
Security scanners won’t harm hearing aids or other personal listening devices. However, scanners occasionally cause excess noise in your hearing aids. It’s a good idea to turn down the volume before passing through security.
Traveling by Bus or Train
Driving yourself cross-country might not be the safest idea if you experience moderate or severe hearing loss. Instead, consider hopping on a bus or train. Here are some suggestions to get you to your next stop.
Take Advantage of Disability Discounts
There are a number of discount travel cards for disabled passengers. Amtrak provides a 15% discount to passengers with disabilities as well as a single traveling companion. Contact your specific bus or rail company to see if there are any discounts available.
Learn the Stops
Most buses and trains display upcoming stops on overhead electronic signs. But in the event that these displays go offline or are non-existent, you’ll need a way to keep track of all the stops so you don’t miss yours.
Before your trip, familiarize yourself with bus and train routes. A smartphone makes it easy to access route maps and schedules. You can also find a map at the transportation hub before you board.
When you do board, inform the driver or operator that you’re hearing impaired. Ask him or her to alert you when your stop approaches. Sit close enough for the driver to see you, but don’t be surprised if he or she gets distracted by other passengers and priorities. Refer to your route map and compare estimated arrival times to keep track of where you’re headed and when to get off.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that people with disabilities have access to all electronic and information technology. As such, more and more public places are becoming ADA accessible and now offer hearing loops for assistive listening devices (ALD).
Wherever your travels take you, look around for the blue hearing loop logo. The logo means you can switch on your assistive listening device (ALD) and listen to public address system announcements directly through your hearing aids.
Follow the tips in this blog to make your upcoming vacation or business trip a breeze. Talk with your audiologist about ALD accessories and for more tips on how to travel with hearing aids and hearing loss.