As Spring finally seems to have sprung thoughts obviously turn to the warmer months and holidays abroad. For the deaf/hearing impaired this can bring a whole host of obstacles their way and hamper their ability to really relax and enjoy those cocktails on the beach. .
I have put together some helpful tips and advice that I think will help you to not only be more prepared but also to be able to relax and enjoy yourself, knowing that disasters can be quite easily avoided.
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare! Pack spare EVERYTHING, even if you don’t think you will need it. It will ease your mind to know that you are prepared for any situation.
If travelling alone, research your routes carefully and print out confirmations of itineraries. This will make things easy for you should you have any language/communication barriers.
Invest in a basic phrase book, if you can’t understand someone because of their language, it will help you if you can point to a phrase in a book or look up what they are saying.
Look up and note down the nearest audiology/cochlear implant centres in your destination in case of emergency and note down all your current hospital details such as hospital, address, consultant etc.
Obtain a copy of your current ‘map’ from your audiologist in case of emergency.
If you wear a Cochlear Implant, consider using your manufacturers ‘Holiday Loaner Scheme’ (Med-El) whereby you can purchase a spare processor mapped to your requirements for a nominal fee. For Med-El users, this is £30 for a 21 day period.
Invest in decent travel insurance and make sure your hearing aid/cochlear implant or other equipment is specified in case you need to make a claim.
Obtain from your hospital/doctors etc a patient identification card (cochlear implant users) that explains your implant in several languages – if this is not available, perhaps google translate some key phrases about the implant in case this is needed in foreign destinations.
If you are travelling to exotic, scorching hot climes, then remember to bring your Dry box and Dry-Briks with you to combat moisture in your hearing aids or implant. Moisture is the devil and can cause your hearing aid or implant to temporarily stop working.
Bring your hearing aid/CI repair kit with you for the basic maintenance such as the build up of earwax or a tube splitting.
At the airport/other ports;
At check in, ensure that the check in staff do not offer you a seat by the exit doors as airplane guidance stipulate that those with hearing loss should not sit in these seats in case they are given emergency instructions to operate the doors.
Bring some form of identification with you that shows you have an implant such as your patient identification card which contains details of your cochlear device and show this to a member of staff during the security screening process.
If you do not have an implant but perhaps wear a hearing aid or have a severe hearing loss, carry a card that states this information in case you need to liaise with a member of staff.
If you wear a cochlear implant, you have a few options during the security screening process;
- a) Opt for a full body scan by an officer (making sure you tell them you do not wish to go through the scanners due to your implant)
- b) Opt to go through the body scanner which does not affect your processor in any way or
- c) turn your processor off and put it through the scanning machine along with your hand luggage and go through the x-ray machines as usual, making sure you draw their attention to the fact you may set off the machine.
Carry your CI user guide and travel case with you in hand luggage.
Make sure someone knows you have a hearing loss, whether a member of air crew, a train conductor, coach driver etc so if there are any announcements they will know to speak to you separately.
If you wear a cochlear implant, it is recommended, but not entirely necessary, that you turn the processor off during take-off and landing similar to other electronic devices. If in doubt, speak to a crew member.
Your hearing loss/implant/hearing aids will not affect your ability to travel, you just need to be a bit more prepared than the average traveller. Do not let it affect your enjoyment of your well-earned break!