Five Ways To Make Holiday Parties More Hearing Loss Friendly

The holidays can be rough for people with hearing loss. Seeing friends and family is nice, but holiday gatherings tend to be larger and louder and often occur one after the other. It can be exhausting and overwhelming, and even depressing to watch others celebrate when you feel like you cannot participate in the way that you would like.

It is hard on those that love us as well. They don’t want to see us struggle or be unhappy, and they can get annoyed if we don’t want to partake in the festivities. Today’s post is for them. Please share these tips with them so you all can enjoy a happier holiday party season together.

Glasses of champagne

If you are sharing your holidays with someone with hearing loss, here are five things you can do to make your holiday gatherings more hearing loss friendly.

 1. Break up party spaces into smaller areas. Even at a large party, certain areas can be set aside for quiet conversation and other areas for louder pursuits. Breaking up the space will also cut down the overall level of background noise.

2. Turn the music down and the lights up. People often dim the lights and crank the music at parties, but both make it very difficult for people with hearing loss to hear and lip read. If you can, pick a quieter soundtrack and a slightly brighter glow for your event.

3. Keep an eye out for the loner in the corner. It is very challenging for someone with hearing loss to hear well in a cocktail party setting. Rather than risk faking it, someone with hearing loss may go sit to the side, staying out of the fray and watching others interact from a distance. If you see someone you love on the sidelines, seek them out for a one-on-one conversation or invite them to join you in a quieter room.

4. Use a microphone for speeches. Holiday parties are often replete with toasts and speeches. If you have them, use a microphone so that all party guests can enjoy them. If you really want to get fancy (for large parties), connect the microphone to a hearing loop so those with hearing loss can listen in through their t-coil.

5.  Have realistic expectations. Even when everyone is trying their best, it just might not be possible for someone with hearing loss to hear well. Bring your sense of humor and understand if someone with hearing loss needs to take a break in a quieter room for some period of time.

Readers, what suggestions do you have for making holiday parties easier for people with hearing loss?

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9 thoughts on “Five Ways To Make Holiday Parties More Hearing Loss Friendly

  1. Trying to understand speech that is broadcast through microphone is even more difficult than trying to understand regular speech. I would much prefer that the speaker simply ask for quiet.

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  2. Have a “time out” space where someone can get away from the action for a few minutes. In certain settings, the extra noise and/or visual stimuli bring on waves of nausea – coupled with party food and drinks, this is not a good thing. I have actually had to leave parties so I could vomit because of the over stimulation and fatigue caused by being overwhelmed with sensory input. I don’t want to be anti-social, but sometimes I need to engage in self-defense.

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  3. In your best intended efforts, don’t single out someone with a hearing loss. This sounds harsh but I totally dislike the “oh I better go say Hi to the deaf person” then go along my merry way.. over enunciated falseness can isolate someone even more.
    It does not take words to help one feel connected. a simple smile from across the room , a wave, a wink…small gestures can let someone know they are a part of the festivities and are welcomed. I call this my anchor person. even if they are across the room, you know you have a “safe spot”….and that can give you strength to make it through.
    I am the one who will slowly fade into the wallpaper. it becomes too overwhelming and rather than risk looking like an idiot by errors in responses or delayed laughter at jokes…if they are jokes….I put in what effort I can then “hide”..
    What helps is if there are things to look at………books, photo albums, pictures…..displays…perhaps even a small activity, those metal puzzles, or jigsaw puzzle or something to focus on …
    Another way is to ask if I could help with something….restocking crackers, folding napkins, I won’t mind…given something to do I can be a part…yet apart.

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  4. Thanks for these tips – I have a heck of time hearing in these kinds of situations. All too often I have to just sort of pretend I know what is being said and get by on context clues. The more the hostess does to help me, the more grateful I would be, for sure.

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