Happy Holidays…and how those with hearing loss can better enjoy them!
The holiday season is a time to gather with friends and family. Festive parties full of holiday music and the laughter of guests are welcome events for many of us. But they can be a REAL challenge, even a nightmare, for people with hearing loss. Considering how common hearing loss is, it’s a good idea to make sure your gatherings are inclusive of people with hearing loss.
The good news? All it takes is a few small accommodations to make sure your guests with hearing loss feel welcomed at the table, too:
1. Designate a quiet area or room
If you can, set aside one area of your house or party that is a “quiet area” without a lot of background noise.
Also, take a few moments to consider who is coming. Will there be a lot of young children? Consider designating a playroom where they can play with their toys together. Got football fans expecting to watch the big game? Make sure the TV won’t be playing loudly in the same area as your quiet area.
2. Dinner table considerations
When it’s time to eat, how the table is arranged matters more than you might realize. Round tables, for example, make it easier for a person with hearing loss to keep up with the conversation. Here are other things to consider:
- Windows: Close the drapes to reduce glare (for speechreading) and improve sound dampening.
- Lighting: Bring in additional lamps if the room is too dark.
- Seating: Put the person with hearing aids furthest from noise at the kids’ table and the kitchen or TV.
- Clear the sightlines: Place candles or centerpieces on side tables during the meal to keep views unobstructed.
3. Reduce the noise level and holiday music
If you can’t designate separate rooms for the big game or kids’ playroom, at least turn the television off during dinner. Also, turn down the holiday music—or turn it off completely—while you eat. It tends to make people speak louder. Wait until your guests have left the table before clearing the dishes.
4. Know the considerations for talking to someone with hearing loss
For people with hearing loss or other hearing impairments, a noisy environment or friends who speak too quickly can make communication extra challenging. We’ve got a full list of tips for talking to someone with hearing loss here, but here’s a quick summary: