Tips for Women Traveling with Hearing Loss

by | Jul 28, 2022 | 0 comments

woman looking for directions

Last updated on August 4th, 2022

Featured image: Having the right guide makes all the difference / Photo credit: by bernardbodo on Envato

Six Tips to Find the Right Guide

Shari Eberts, Guest Writer

Editor’s Note: I invited Shari Eberts, a hearing loss advocate and author of Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss, after reading a version of this article on LivingWithHearingLoss.com. It’s important to me that we continue to make travel accessible to all by exploring it from all perspectives. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.   

My family and I recently traveled overseas to mark an important family milestone. It was an amazing trip with many historical sites to see, a beautiful countryside to experience, and a special family event to observe. It was a once in a lifetime trip, so we decided to splurge on a private guide. But it was critical that we find the right one. I didn’t want to miss one word because of my hearing loss.

I decided not to leave anything to chance, but invested significant time upfront, detailing my communication needs to the tour company as well as to the tour guide they recommended. This involved several phone calls, numerous follow-up email reminders and a video chat with our prospective tour guide, but it was worth the effort. I found the right tour guide for my needs making the trip more enjoyable for my entire family.

Finding the Right Service Provider When Traveling with Hearing Loss

This experience reminded me how important finding the right service provider is for people with hearing loss – people with the proper attitude, but also with the right manner of speaking for your specific hearing loss. My hearing loss is most severe in the mid-range frequencies, so female voices are often easier for me to hear. Your hearing loss may require a different voice profile.

This is how I found the right tour guide for my family’s trip, but these steps could apply when hiring any service provider including a lawyer, a financial advisor, a doctor, a yoga teacher, and even an audiologist. 

1. Be as specific as possible about your needs upfront

In my initial inquiries I mentioned my hearing loss and asked what accommodations could be made for this. It was very telling to see how each of the tour companies reacted to this request. I was also very specific as to the type of guide I wanted — someone with a naturally loud speaking voice (people never remember to adjust their volume after the first few minutes), a minimal accent, and no facial hair.

Shari and her family of four amongst a rock formation

Shari and her family in Petra, Jordan / Photo credit: Shari Eberts

2. Take a test drive

I had a video conversation with our assigned guide before things were finalized. I wanted to experience how well I could hear him and to see how easy he would be to lip-read. I also wanted to assess his attitude about my hearing loss. Would he try to be helpful or find it annoying? I was very impressed. In our call, he proactively listed a few suggestions that he thought would help me hear well during the trip, including my sitting in the passenger seat of the van.

3. Start off on the right foot with a reminder

On our first morning of touring, I reminded the guide about my hearing loss and was happy to see that he had already cleared out the spot in the passenger seat for me to sit.

Senior tourist woman walking at the beach

Find an Accessible Tour Now

The Women’s Travel Directory is a great resource to find accessible tours around the world.

Shari and her family in Israel / Photo credit: Shari Eberts 

4. Provide real-time feedback, both positive and negative

I was so happy on the first day with how well I was hearing that I made a point to mention this to the guide. I complimented him on how clearly he was speaking, and he was pleased, which motivated him to continue with his efforts.

5. Continue to self-advocate along the way

Whenever we visited a site with a film, I asked if it was available captioned, and if I missed something, I asked for a quick summary from my guide. This saved my family the task, which decreased the burden on them. Plus, they all probably benefited from hearing the information again.

6. Confirm important details by email or text

Even though I was hearing well, I didn’t want to risk mishearing important details, so I asked the guide to confirm all reservations and other appointment times with me via email or text.

The Upfront Investment Is Worth the Time

While finding the right tour guide for our trip required an upfront investment of time, it allowed me to weed out service providers that were not sensitive to my needs and provided a strong backdrop for the success of the trip. It worked so well that I plan to use this same process anytime I need to hire a service provider again.

Do you have a guide to recommend?

We offer certified individual guides free listings in our Women’s Travel Directory.

Click here to recommend your favorites! 

 

woman smiling

Shari Eberts is a passionate hearing health advocate and internationally recognized author and speaker on hearing loss issues. She is the founder of Living with Hearing Loss, a popular blog and online community for people with hearing loss, and an executive producer of We Hear You, an award-winning documentary about the hearing loss experience. Her book, Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss, (co-authored with Gael Hannan) is the ultimate survival guide to living well with hearing loss. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, she will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.

Read More on Accessible Travel

At JourneyWoman, we love receiving articles and tips from guest writers if they are part of our community!

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