Ask Anna: Can my hard of hearing child wear headphones on the airplane?
Ask Anna is an advice column for the hearing loss community.
We’re taking an airplane to our family vacation and my 6-year-old daughter with mild hearing loss who wears hearing aids will want to watch her tablet. Typically on airplanes, she wants to take off her hearing aids and wear over the ears headphones. Can my hard of hearing child wear headphones on the airplane, or would it be better to have her stream through the ComPilot II or the Roger Select? Why?
Airplanes are typically quite difficult environments for hearing aid users. There is a constant background noise for the duration of the flight. I know that my work colleague who has a severe to profound hearing loss just switches her hearing aids off when we fly anywhere. She makes sure she sits next to me and lets me do the talking to the stewards.
For your daughter or for anyone with a mild hearing loss wearing headphones without the hearing aids might be just fine. Especially if you invest in a pair of the headphones with noise cancellation built in.
The small headphone sets provided on the aircraft are normally not the best quality and relying on the onboard entertainment is not ideal. Movies on board are great when there are subtitles available but not all airlines provide this. Typically the film is in English with, for example, Spanish subtitles. You usually can’t watch the film in English with English subtitles.
Streaming directly to hearing aids on the airplane
For children when traveling Using a tablet is one of the best options for children to watch their favorite movies and or games downloaded onto them. This is also great for adults too.
Most hearing aids have some degree of noise suppression built inside them. This includes a cutoff level which prevents noise levels from exceeding their limit. If you child wears Phonak hearing aids, the recommended settings and features that are activated depending on age are all agreed with a pediatric advisory board. The noise cancellation feature is active in the available programs so the hearing aids should sound comfortable when worn on a plane.
If hearing aids are used with an accessory like a ComPilot II or Roger Select the signal being streamed to these devices is sent directly to the hearing aids. The surrounding noise is attenuated/reduced so this is also a great way to ensure that the noise is filtered out. For an airplane, I would consider the design of an accessory and make a note of three things. Make sure that the streaming device is fully charged before your trip, can be worn comfortably while flying, and that it is easy to remove and store for going through airport security.
Wishing you a great holiday
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