12 Tips for Thriving During Christmas

While Christmas is an exciting time of the year for many, the holidays can bring some added challenges for people with hearing conditions that might add stress to the mix. If you have a hearing condition or will spend the holidays with someone who does (and that’s at least 1-in-6 of us) here are some easy tips that will make the event enjoyable for everyone: 

  1. Set a children’s play area: Children can be loud. Setting a separate part of the house for children to be as rowdy as they want to without disturbing the rest of the guests can go a long way in making your event accessible.  
  2. Buffer the sound of the room: Fabric absorbs sound, so using tablecloths and meeting in a room with carpeted floors will also allow for a quieter and more accessible setting.  
  3. Check your lighting: People who lip-read need good lighting to see other people’s faces clearly, so for all the ambience that candlelight and fairy-lights give, make sure the room you’re meeting in is clearly lit. 
  4. Go full-circle: circular tables create a better listening environment and allow people with hearing conditions to lip-read more easily, so opt for a circular table if you’re hosting. If you’re attending someone else’s event, ask if a circular seating arrangement is available. 
  5. Use disposable dinnerware: the clanking and clattering of metal cutlery on crockery can be very unpleasant and loud for people with hearing conditions. Using paper plates will allow for a quieter dinner and an easier clean up! 
  6. Turn down the music: while music adds a nice tone to any occasion, it can become overpowering to people with hearing conditions. The effort in trying to catch people’s words while drowning out the background music can be exhausting, so make sure music levels are low. If you’re struggling to hear, ask the host to turn the music down a notch – events are supposed to be fun for everyone.  
  7. Location, location, location: try to sit with your back to the wall and with a light behind you. This will improve acoustics (as noise will bounce on the wall) and allow you to lip-read more easily. 
  8. Choose a buddy: having someone that you can talk to one-on-one on the day that can help you catch words you may have missed can go a long way in making you feel included. Ask a person to be your buddy in advance so you can have peace of mind on the day.  
  9. One conversation at a time: Trying to catch what people are saying when everyone’s speaking at the same time is a nightmare for people with hearing conditions. If you’re hosting, try to moderate the conversation so that there’s only one conversation taking place around the table at a time. Try to plan events that allow/prioritise one-on-one conversations rather than one to many or worse, many to many. 
  10. Don’t talk with your mouth full or cover your mouth when speaking.  
  11. Take it outside: if you’re in the middle of a one-on-one conversation and are struggling to hear, ask the person you’re speaking with to go to a quieter place with you. 
  12. Find your quiet place: Identify a quiet part of the house where you or the person with a hearing condition can retreat to if they need a listening break, this is also helpful for people who can experience sensory overload.