Now is a great time to start thinking about how to make the holidays better for your guests with hearing loss – not only kids with hearing loss because with 60% of people over 60 having hearing loss and 80% of people over 80 having hearing loss.. chances are there’s a few people at your holiday get together that can benefit from these!
- Make a designated quiet and cozy room. This one should ideally have the TV off, good lighting, and a relaxing place for people who are tired from the overstimulation to come and relax a bit (carpet, throw blankets, etc). Having quiet activities like a puzzle everyone can work on or photo albums to look through will give people something to do and to talk about.
- Use decorations that double as sound absorbers- soft materials like fabric and textiles are great for reducing reverberation. Use table cloths on main tables and side tables and double up with a runner and cloth placemats and cloth napkins, seats with cushions or blankets hanging on the back of them, felt pumpkins, less hard serving ware on the table during the meal, etc.
- Smaller guest list = less background noise, a smaller table (easier to see each other’s faces), and an easier time helping everyone understand that they need to use good communication strategies. You can split up the group into a few tables and put the people with hearing loss in the one with better sound treatment (i.e. lower ceilings, away from the noisy place in the house).
- If you have a kid with hearing loss I hope your captions area already on! They help with reading. They also make it so your guests won’t have to crank the volume to overcome the kitchen noise.