Holiday get-togethers are notoriously difficult for anyone with hearing loss. A combination of ill-lit homes, loud relatives, poor acoustic accommodations, and auditory filler by the football game being left on all day leaves someone with a hearing loss stressed out and cranky. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do as a host to provide communication help to these relatives.
Set the Stage:
We all love the ambiance of dinner with a holiday glow but making sure your house is well-lit provides better access to lip reading. We all read lips to some degree, but those with hearing loss depend more on it for auditory cues.
If you have curtains, closing them can provide sound absorption and reduce glare. You can always add more light if the room is too dark.
Keep those with hearing loss away from the designated children’s table and not close to the kitchen. Using round tables are best so faces are easily seen. The best seat for a square or rectangular table would be at the head.
Clear the sightlines.
It’s difficult to deconstruct your holiday creation from the table, but centerpieces and candles need to be moved or taken completely off the table. Keeping a clear line of sight is important for anyone with hearing loss. Someone with hearing loss will use as many auditory or gestural cues as possible to help decode the message.
Try assigning seats this holiday! That’s a perfect way to break up the party and chose the best seat in the house for those who struggle to hear the most.
One way to get the younger set to involved is to use an app so the person with hearing loss can read, in addition to hearing, what is being said. Otter, https://otter.ai/ is one we’ve found helpful if someone wants to sit next to the person and tell them what’s being said. This voice-to-text transcription service is free, easy to use, and has a great caption rate.
Another option is Ava, https://www.ava.me/. Ava involved a bit more coordination between others, but will allow everyone to see real-time captioning that separates speakers by colored text, and allows you to invite people who aren’t even at dinner! This app is a game changer for anyone who doesn’t go out because they can’t hear. Ava allows anyone to read what is being said in real-time.