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Flying with hearing loss? These resources make it easier

flying with hearing loss
Too often we hear about the negatives when it comes to flying with hearing loss. Whether it’s the lack of captioning on planes or being greeted by a wheelchair, the examples are legion. But recently there have been some positive airline advances for deaf passengers.

Advertising Sign Language

Many airlines are starting to recognize sign language as an important communication tool.

This summer, Delta announced that their flight attendants will wear a badge that declares what languages they speak – including sign language. Employees of Delta Airlines who speak any of the 300+ types of sign language will have this identified on their name tags.

“Our mission is to connect the world, which starts with making travel easier for all people,” CEO Ed Bastian wrote on LinkedIn. “It’s a small step on our journey, but a powerful change as we seek to make the world a smaller, more inclusive place.”

This comes after a couple of incidents with deaf travelers, but is a move in the right direction.

Earlier this year, Virgin Atlantic Airways also implemented a “hidden symbol,” which appears on a ticket slip or on a pin. This allows people with invisible disabilities to be noticed by employees.  Sign language interpretation in British Sign Language is also available, if notified in advance. These services are only available on international flights, however.

Read more: Watch: Tips for flying with hearing loss

Text-Based Customer Service

Spirit Airlines also has a new phase of customer service operated via text messaging. Since September 1, customers are now able to book flights, check itineraries, and ask questions via text message, according to Blue Sky, a news service by Pittsburgh International Airport.

“We launched this service to better connect with our guests, both domestically and abroad,” Bobby Schroeter, vice president of sales and marketing at Spirit, told Blue Sky.

The airline partnered with WhatsApp and LivePerson to make the service possible. WhatsApp has more than 1.5 billion users worldwide. It is even more popular in Europe, Mexico, and Latin America than the U.S. The best part about this development is that it also benefits people with hearing loss.

Other Improvements

Did you know that hearing loop technology has been offered at eight U.S. airports since 2017?

Or that Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport has installed new video relay service tablets in Terminal 4 to help travelers with speech or hearing disabilities? Five more are planned to be installed in other areas of the airport by the end of the year. Passengers can connect with an interpreter via sign language and ask questions about airport-related issues. The tablets also have apps for travelers to use like CaptionCall.

Advances like these have us flying high! Here are some more tips for traveling and flying with hearing loss!

Packing essentials for the Hard of Hearing traveler

7 advantages of traveling with hearing loss

What other advances would you like to see?

Author Details
Lisa A. Goldstein has a Masters in Journalism from UC Berkeley, a digital hearing aid, a cochlear implant, and plenty of deaf-friendly communication equipment. She spends her days juggling life as a freelance journalist, wife, and mother of two in Pittsburgh, PA.