Travelling if you have a hearing loss
Travelling by bus
You should be able to get a free concessionary bus pass from your local Council if you currently receive a state pension or are profoundly or severely deaf. We asked our members and volunteers about their experiences ...
'In my area a hearing aid does entitle one to a bus pass but it must be supported by an audiogram. In some areas the proof of having registered with the Council's Sensory Social services is also useful to back up a request.'
'It does seem to be location dependent - many Scottish authorities will issue a pass dependent on level of hearing loss so an audiogram is needed.'
'On your application it will be worth mentioning that you can't travel with confidence as you don't hear staff anouncements, thus limitating your journey experience.'
'This is in the process of being researched and changed in Surrey - outcome unknown as yet. At present, people with hearing aids can apply to the local County Council to be registered disabled and this will entitle them to a Bus Pass and Train Pass, and also some leisure activities. It is also supposed to provide the Council with some idea of numbers in the County with hearing loss ... but ... surprise, surprise, it doesn't! Cos people don't think of themselves as being disabled ... so services are not provided and when they DO NEED them they ain't there ...Think lipreading etc - so what will entice people to register?'
'Interesting that people don't consider themselves Disabled. It took me more than a year to "Come Out" as disabled. I guess you need to make people understand that the sooner they accept their hearing loss/deafness they will be able to adjust their life using the tools made available to them and therefore improve their living.'
'The majority of people who are hearing aid users are older people who would have a OAP pass anyway. It's the younger generations that are left struggling.'
'Yes, deaf people are entitled to travel passes ...the more profoundly deaf you are the better. BUT be warned ...if you are like me have good speech and don't sign ... the Council may be awkward just on appearences only! I had to complain to the Ombudsman and finally got one after two years of fighting for the right to have one! Even the Social worker said that I was not entitled as I don't sign and have good speech ...but she made a dangerous assumption ... when I won my case ... I made sure that this Social Worker never behaved like that again ...'
'You are not alone! There are many of us here. and all have had the same problems. I sometimes think it is worse for us because the deafness tends to be invisible ... see a wheelchair then it is obvious to the average person, or see a BSL user that's obvious ... But us, we are ignored or told that we are liars or just making it up! It can wear you down emotionally, and physically ... the trick is try not to get angry, get even by complaining in writing ... attach a copy of your audiogram ... turn your frustrations into something positive.'
'I have a London tube freedom pass. I had to fill in a form with my local Council including a copy of my audiogram. I am not sure how long this will last, let's hope the Tories get voted out. Such a life line for getting about as transport in London is expensive.'
Travelling by plane
Whether you're going on a business trip or off on holiday, take a bit of time to prepare for your flight. For example, let the airline know your needs in advance - explaining clearly the help you require and that you cannot hear announcements. Other do's and don'ts:
- Checkout ABTA's checklist for travellers with disabilities
- Request that the assistance you require is confirmed in writing on your ticket or itinerary
- Most airports have induction loops, public textphones and public amplified telephones
- A member of the airport staff may escort you to your plane along with other disabled passengers
- Tell the cabin staff on the plane that you have a hearing loss
- The staff may have Deaf Awareness Training or a qualification in British Sign Language
- They may be able to provide the health and safety instructions and general information in writing for you
- Your hearing dog should be allowed to travel in the plane with you and free of charge – remember that your dog should have its passport and vaccinations too!
British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, in particular, have special departments to look after the needs of disabled passengers. www.britishairways.com/travel/disabilityassistanceinfo and virginholidays.co.uk
Deafness Research UK share five top tips on how to stay comfortable when flying.
Advice and information about flying from our members and volunteers ...
'If all the different sounds and frequencies are bearable, there's no reason why you shouldn't have your hearing aid on. But if you're in a lot of discomfort, just switch it off. People might want to talk to you and you might want to have the hearing aid on for that; in that case it's simpler to switch it on rather than take it out of the bag!'
'Regarding batteries, you can have these wherever it makes sense for you. Still, for me ... I always carry a spare battery on the coin section of my wallet. You really never know when you'll need to change.'
'Good tip for flying ... If you have Menieres or if you feel your ears going "funny" on take off and landing, there are a special ear plugs that help to maintain a balance on ear pressure. This can help avoiding triggering Vertigo and Tinnitus.'
'I keep my spare batteries in my handbag and take the hearing aid out during take off and landing just to ease pressure in the ear. And of course if I fancy a sleep I take it out too.'
'I always have my hearing aids on me, but I turn them off so I don't hear the noise. Batteries I have in my bag. If unsure you have one in your hand luggage. And you can always chew gum.'
'My batteries set off the alarm and they had to thoroughly search me though. That part wasn't fun.'
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