Let’s make the holidays the most wonderful time of the year! The holiday season is a time to gather with friends and family, maybe eat a little turkey, and leave cookies for Santa. Festive parties full of holiday music and the laughter are welcome events for many of us—but they can be a challenge 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.
Even if you or your loved one wears hearing aids, background noise and other factors can still make it hard to hear at parties or big festive dinners. The good news? All it takes is a few small accommodations to make sure your guests with hearing loss feel welcomed at the table. Be sure to add these to your party to-do list:
1. Pay attention to factors such as window glare, tall centerpieces, and poor lighting in the dining area. These can reduce the visibility of a speaker’s lips and facial expressions, which affects the person’s ability to use speech-reading cues.
2. Use soft materials such as tablecloths or curtains to minimize background noise and reverberation.
3. Avoid creating areas with multiple sound sources (music plus TV, etc.). You may also want to consider designating a separate room or area as a “background noise free” zone.
4. Ask if something needs to be repeated or rephrased and use good communication strategies when talking to someone with hearing loss.
5. Turn on captions when watching the TV.
6. Consider a smaller guest list.
7. And remember—consider visiting your audiologist if you have trouble hearing your family during the holidays.
We hope you can benefit from these tips and make your holidays a time to remember!