Editor's Note: I have received multiple e-mails from readers who deal with deafness and mobility impairments at the same time. I couldn't figure out what to tell them, so I reached out to Ed Rex, a British travel blogger who also happens to be deaf. I asked him to put together a few tips to help my deaf readers and he happily agreed. The result is this wonderful guest post:
Hi, I’m Ed from RexyEdventures.com and I’m profoundly deaf, which means I cannot hear at all without my hearing aid and cochlear implant. I don’t use sign language as I am able to talk and listen.
I’m a solo traveller who have been going around the world for nearly five years now. I’ve visited six continents (Antarctica yet to come!), over 35 countries and have been immersed in more languages than I can remember.
But travelling with deafness is sometimes not an easy thing when you find yourself in a challenging situation such as the time I had to journey through the scariest and dark cave in the world in Laos or the time I had to understand instructions given to me in a new language in Uganda.
Many people I met on my travels simply don’t understand what my hearing aid does and once I was accused of being a spy!
Again, many people do not have a degree of deaf awareness, which means I have to work the extra effort to hear and to be heard in conversations. Sometimes, I teach deaf awareness to help others understand that not all deaf people are the same. Sometimes, I bump into others who enthusiastically test their sign language on me and they are met with a blank look on my face.
It can be challenging.
However, five years on the road, I’ve not had any reason to NOT go travelling because I’m deaf. I’ve opened up my eyes to the world, I’ve experienced absolutely amazing things and being deaf doesn’t stop me from undertaking thrilling adventures such as zip lining over 800m high on the Flight of the Angel in Italy, trekking for a whole day within the Grand Canyon or even jumping out of a plane at 12,000 feet on an epic skydive! I’ve absolutely loved it and yet, there’s no sign of stopping me. This year, I’ll be exploring more of Europe in Scandinavia and the Balkans and I’ll be for sure looking for that adrenaline hit!
At the same time, however, I still have to make sure that my deafness can be adapted to my travelling, thanks to my tips:
- Always carry a spare part with you. Even if it’s another hearing aid, tubing, ear mould and especially batteries.
- Always let your flight, bus, train and even walking company know in advance of your deafness and if they have materials you can follow.
- Be patient when meeting people. Always tell them to be aware of your deafness and that they should use techniques when talking to you e.g. always face you, don’t cover their mouth and be clear as they can. Remind them that you may not catch what they say the first time.
- I always carry a set of T-loop hook headphones to help me listen to my music, audio tour guides (although ask if they have transcripts) and for any phone conversations.
- Download visual apps on your phone to communicate back home including Skype or FaceTime.
- Always carry an under-the-pillow vibrating alarm clock to help you wake up to meet your flight on time.
- If you are following a walking tour, always barge your way to the front to get the best view of the guide.
- I prefer to travel during daylight hours as I feel safer and less stressed.
- If you are going out with fellow travel mates, ask if they can go to a quieter place to help with listening.
- Most of all, always smile and enjoy the travelling. Don’t let a momentary loss of not understanding what went on ruin your trip.
Thanks, Ed! Show your appreciation by following Ed's journey on social media: