As the holidays promise us a welcome return for all those things we enjoy so much, perhaps it’s time to spare a thought for a bit of planning.
The holiday season might be the season of parties, dining out and welcoming those we love into our homes; it is also a season of possible pitfalls, for those of us with hearing loss.
Don’t get caught out this Yuletide by things which make you miserable. Especially when all you need to do in order to have a sack full of fun, is simply follow the five simple tips below.
1) Carry spare hearing aid batteries with you!
The first handy tip is a bit of an obvious thing. Just wait one minute and ask yourself how many times you’ve made this simple mistake?
And then, try to remember how miserable it made you. Okay, so, our first tip is this, wherever you go and whatever you do, remember to carry spare hearing aid batteries with you.
As I said this tip is nothing new. Putting it into action can really save more than a little heartache, embarrassment, and confusion this Christmas.
2) Know the environment you will be in before you arrive
Tip number two is concerned with that wilder side which likes to be unleashed this time of year.
Yep, I’m talking about your inner party animal. Whether you’re a crazy can’t get enough of the fun or even a quiet, sipping sherry in the corner type, this tip is for you. Trust me.
Know your environment ahead of time. This could have been titled ‘look before you leap.’ This is where a little forward planning goes a long way.
It’s time to play detective and, you won’t even have to wear a fedora and a raincoat to pull it off.
Make sure you know ahead of time where the festivities are going to happen. Find out as much as you can about the environment in question. Learn how it will impact your own hearing issues.
There really is nothing worse than sitting at a table of laughing happy people and feeling totally miserable inside, because you have no idea of the joke.
Often this kind of incident can be easily avoided by being certain that you are, if not totally in control of the situation, at least reliably informed.
Often people discuss ahead of time possible venues for parties and get-togethers. Be attentive when this happens and put yourself forward.
If you know what your limitations are, it is sensible to look out for a place where you will at least have a fighting chance to be part of the fun.
3) Prepare for your travels for a smoother trip
The next tip concerns that old holiday standard, travel. Yes at this time of year more than at any other, we find ourselves traveling.
Unfortunately, we are not the only ones with itchy feet. It seems that the world and her pet dog are all feeling that homing instinct and answering the call to return home.
Having hearing loss and traveling can be a difficult mix at the best of times, but combining this with the holiday crowd and you can be asking for trouble.
So tip three is all about being a holiday travel planner. During the Second World War, posters everywhere asked people ‘Is your journey really necessary?’ a good question.
If your journey is only a whim, then it might make sense to postpone it until things quieten down a bit.
If on the other hand, you need to get to Uncle Frank’s or Mother is expecting you, you’ll need to consider one or two things, before setting a foot outside.
Planning is all about good preparation, so you will need to try and book tickets in advance if possible. This not only saves time but also avoids those misunderstandings at stations and airports.
Many bus and train companies now offer helpful apps for your phone, even updating travel information every few minutes.
This can really feel like a life saver at critical travel times, as they show things like missed and late services, as well as platform changes and cancelations.
Do print out your travel plans too, as technology is great until it goes pear-shaped, and, sends us up the wall in no time at all.
In the UK if you have hearing aids you are eligible for a Disabled Persons Railcard. This gives you 1/3 off all standard and first class rail travel.
If you’re a frequent train traveller this can really mean a substantial saving over time and the cost is just £20 for a year’s travel.
4) Be ready for entertaiment
Our next tip is all about entertainment with a capital E, we’re talking about the stage and silver screen, or in plain English, gigs, show, and movies.
This is another of our hacks which will only really prove useful if you are prepared to be prepared before the event.
Many theatres are now offering BSL signers, but do be careful, as there has been some controversy over people using something of a one size fits all approach, considering that any quality of signing is better than none.
This, of course, is not what you need if you want to be entertained. Instead, look carefully at what the venue in question is actually offering and so, choose selectively for your own needs.
A great many cinemas are now offering film showings with subtitles. This is a welcome change and can allow enjoyment for those who find themselves challenged in this situation.
Read more: Optimizing the movie theater captioning experience
On the other hand most high-quality cinemas these days boast sound systems that will allow those with hearing aids to enjoy any films being shown.
Do be aware though that there are still many small cinemas whose sound systems are very outdated and still offer patrons 90s boom.
So, do find out ahead of time and so, make this part of your holiday viewing plans.
For all kinds of great resources in the UK, there is a fantastic Deaf awareness group website called “Attitude is everything – access to live music.” They have a large amount of quality gig and concert information.
5) Don’t forget about communication!
Last, but certainly not least is a roundup of those things which should be obvious to us, but never hurt to remind those of us with hearing loss challenges.
When communicating with people, especially with strangers, do remember to stand close to them.
This will ensure that not only will you have a better chance of hearing what they say, but you will also be in a good position to see their facial expressions and be able to watch their lips.
Read more: How body language helps you communicate
Where possible ask people to get your attention, before speaking to you. This is a very important thing where friends and loved ones are concerned.
I have personally lost count of the times that people who know me very well and are fully aware of my hearing loss, will suddenly start speaking to me when I’m facing away or engaged in doing something.
Remember that none of us hear perfectly all the time, including hearing people. So, do be kind to yourself and do try and keep a sense of humor. It really does help this time of year.
Never be afraid of asking someone to repeat what they have said. They may have mumbled, covered their mouth, turned away or any number of unhelpful things.
But, above all this Christmas be happy and enjoy yourself, whatever you have planned. And remember armed with these 5 tips that you just might survive the holiday season with your smile still firmly in place.
Read more holiday articles here!