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The holidays are here again, and there is an abundance of things to look forward to. Christmas lights brightening the city streets, festive music, good food, great conversations, and of course: holiday parties!
But for someone with hearing loss, holiday parties can sometimes cause stress and feelings of discomfort, as it becomes even more difficult for them to follow conversations in noisy settings. Talking and catching up with friends and family members is one of the most important things about the holidays, so how can those with hearing loss feel comfortable joining the festivities?
Here are some simple tips that will help to aid communication, and make sure that everyone feels included in those important holiday gatherings.
If you’re hosting:
1) Use round tables in your seating plan. Being a good host means making sure that communication flows easily. Circular tables can help in this regard, especially for your hard of hearing guests, who will find it easier to understand their conversation partners if they can see their faces–and even read lips if necessary.
2) Good lighting is key. Good lighting is important for creating ambience and setting a festive mood, but it also plays a part in conversation. Your guests, especially those with hearing difficulties, will have a much easier time understanding and talking with others if party areas are relatively well-lit.
3) Provide a quieter, secondary party space. The sound of ten conversations happening at once is the sign of a good party, right? But for your hard of hearing guests, the din of a crowded living room can prove overwhelming and make it very difficult to keep up with conversations. With this in mind, set up a quieter, smaller room for socializing away from the primary party area. Your guests, even those with perfect hearing, will thank you for providing this quiet retreat for one-on-one conversations.
4) Keep an eye on music volume. Although you may be tempted to turn up the dial on your favorite holiday hits, know that additional noise can be a difficult distraction for any guests with hearing difficulties. That doesn’t mean you can’t use your perfect holiday playlist, but keep an eye on volume levels throughout the night, making sure the sound remains comfortably in the background so that conversations are not disrupted.
If your conversation partner is hard of hearing:
1) Enunciate your words, but don’t speak too slowly. Speaking at a steady, moderate rate is the best way to be understood. Try to avoid speaking overly slowly–it can actually hinder understanding and would likely be annoying to your conversation partner.
2) Be patient and keep your sense of humor. If misunderstandings arise and you find you are feeling frustrated, chances are your companion is as well. Be patient and prepared to repeat or rephrase your comments as necessary, and of course, a sense of humor always comes in handy.
3) Make sure your conversation partner can see your lips. Face them directly in a relatively well-lit area, and remember to keep your hand away from your face while talking, as many hard of hearing people find it is helpful to read lips.
4) Get their attention first. Before speaking, say the name of the person you are addressing, or tap them on the shoulder.
If you are hard of hearing:
1) Seek out a quiet place. Trying to distinguish speech from background noise can be tiring, so seek out a location where you can take a quiet break, if necessary. A simple one-on-one conversation or a few moments alone in this quiet area will help you to feel refreshed and enjoy the rest of the party.
2) Choose a dinner buddy. At dinner, sit next to a person who you usually have an easier time understanding. As an added bonus, they may help to fill you in on any parts of the conversation you’ve missed.
3) Inform the host of your needs. If you find you need any special accommodations, before the party or throughout, don’t be afraid to ask the host. He or she will probably be happy to turn down the music a bit, or help you to find a quieter area to converse with friends and family.
4) Make sure your hearing aid is charged. This may be the most important advice of all–don’t leave for a holiday party without making sure your hearing device is operating correctly and batteries are fully charged!
Our team at Hearing Aid Associates wishes you and your loved ones a happy holiday season!
Hearing Aid Associates
You don't have to suffer through another holiday season unable to hear your loved ones. Reach out to us to start your journey towards better hearing today.