Make Your Festivities Inclusive for Guests With Hearing Loss

by Carrie Jackiewicz, Special Services Coordinator

It is the holiday season, which means gathering with family and friends for meals and get-togethers. These events can be challenging for people with a hearing loss due to background noise, lighting, and the amount of conversation they must listen to and understand.

How can you make your next gathering more accommodating and inclusive for guests with hearing loss?

You could first find ways to reduce background noise in the room. Turn down music or turn it off altogether during a meal. Ensure there are rugs, curtains, or pillows in the room that can soak up some of the sound and reduce echo.

Good lighting is an important accommodation for people with hearing loss. While candles set the mood, they may not create enough light to see and lipread everyone’s faces. It is also helpful to close blinds or curtains so that no one’s face is backlit; shadows reduce the ability to lipread.

Seating should allow for a person with hearing loss to see the majority of the guests’ faces. It may be helpful to ask the person where they would prefer to sit – in the middle of the table or at the end.

You could turn to technology to ensure comprehension of conversation. Remote microphones emphasize the voice of the person who is speaking over background noise in the room. Real-time text-to-speech apps, such as Live Transcribe, can help a person with hearing loss follow conversations with greater success.

Finally, it may be beneficial to allow for listening breaks during your gathering. It is important to remember the effort required by people with a hearing loss to follow and comprehend conversations.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season with your family and friends.