Travelling With Hearing Loss, and Now Face Masks – Pt. 1

Sam July 1, 2021

At Hearing Aid Clinics, we’re dedicated to making auditory health services more accessible by providing free neighborhood hearing tests, or even online and private at-home evaluations. Part of fully honoring our commitment involves raising awareness about societal attitudes towards hearing loss, and how we can all collectively strive to create a more inclusive world for those who wear hearing aids, devices that should be seen not as disabling but enabling. 

In this series of blog posts, we’ll be addressing the problems that hearing aid users encounter while traveling, an issue that’s been exacerbated by the pandemic and face masks, and how all parties involved - the hearing aid user, airlines, and fellow passengers - can help make the experience more pleasant. Today we’ll take a look at how people who wear hearing devices can become better equipped to both handle and enjoy travel.

1. HEARING-FRIENDLY FACE MASKS

Wearing a face mask can be tricky especially if you wear a behind-the-ear hearing aid. Every time you put the mask on or take it off, you’re worried about losing your hearing aid.  Wearing the mask and hearing aid simultaneously can also be tricky, and you might have to take your mask off a few times to adjust your device. This might be a big no-no on flights since safety and hygiene protocols are only getting stricter. Thankfully, there are face masks out there that cater to those with hearing loss. You can look through our most recent posts for more information on hearing-friendly face masks.

2. MASKS WITH SIGNS 

It’s helpful to wear masks with signs like the ones below while traveling so that people don’t assume that “you’re just not listening”. Fellow passengers and airline crew who read this sign are more likely to speak more slowly and clearly, as well as assist you if you so desire. 


3. USE A POCKET TALKER 

For those of you who are yet to book your free hearing test at one of our audiologists near you, or are waiting to try hearing aids risk free for 30 days, we have a solution for you for the time being. A handheld amplification device - a pocket talker - allows people with hearing loss to amplify sound while wearing headphones/earphones. It’s essentially an external microphone that you can turn up as you need to. It’s better than nothing, but it will amplify background noise too. That’s why it’s important to remember that a pocket talker won’t substitute a hearing device. 

4. OUR CHECK LIST’S GOT YOU COVERED!

  • Plan in advance to avoid unwarranted listening situations.  
  • Pack extra batteries, cleaning supplies, and a charger for your hearing aids.
  • Check your phone’s roaming restrictions or charges to ensure that you’re able to both send and receive text messages abroad.
  • Having a map handy will make it easier to find your way around if you’re uneasy about conversing with people who don’t speak your language when abroad.
  • Let airline and hotel staff know that you wear a hearing aid in advance so that they can assist you.
  • Put a “Do Not Disturb” sign outside your hotel door to avoid unwanted walk-ins. 
  • Have your hearing aids checked and repaired well before your travel dates. Our audiologists near you will be happy to assist. Many hearing aids today sport a “remote care” feature, which means that our audiologists will be able to fine-tune your device from miles away in accordance with your changing environments and preferences.
  • Face masks are known to reduce sound volume by up to 15 dB, in addition to making speech sound garbled, and so you can always ask our audiologists to add custom programs to your hearing aids that increase the loudness of sound when you’ve got your mask on. 

Stay tuned for our next blog posts to learn more about what changes airlines, as well as fellow passengers, can implement to make travel a more comfortable experience for those who experience problems with their hearing. 

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