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Communication tips for a happier holiday

Sound Advice by Ruth D. Bernstein

Ruth Bernstein, Consumer Advocate

Ruth Bernstein, Consumer Advocate

Volunteering at the the Metropolitan Museum of Art last week, I noted staff assembling one of my favorite works of art, the Neapolitan Christmas tree. I’ve never observed the process in its early stages before and was surprised to see the tree put together from the top down. That makes sense because of the elaborate nature of the decorations around the bottom half of the tree.

The signal the holidays are beginning in the city for me is the Met’s gorgeous tree and the arrival and lighting of the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center.

Although my celebrations center around a Menorah, the problems those of us with hearing loss encounter at holiday time are universal. How do we manage shopping for gifts, conversations at noisy parties, going to movies and shows and traveling?

CHC’s Technology Open House

For the first time this year, CHC is offering clients a Get Ready for the Holidays Technology Open House. The Open House includes complimentary hearing aid and listening devices demonstrations, the opportunity to have hearing aids cleaned, checked and, if necessary, replace tubing, which should be done annually. Call 917-305-7766 (v) to reserve your space for this very useful event or send an email.

Note: 2015 Holiday Hearing Technology Promotion is now underway at CHC in New York. Contact us by December 2nd to to request your complimentary listening demonstration of two excellent new products by Oticon and Widex.

Communication tips with hearing loss

I prepare myself by reading Arlene Romoff’s excellent article about coping with hearing loss at holiday time: Holiday Madness. The article has plenty of communication tips and reminds me of the things I can do to make partying less stressful. I take my Oticon streamer which has a small mic and receiver with neck loop. The device helps block out background noise and transmits conversations through the telecoil in my hearing aids. Some people get nervous when I put a mic in front of them. A good icebreaker is to say, “You’re on CNN” accompanied by a big smile.

Pursuit of culture (and sometimes quiet) in the big city

As always at this time of year, the city has a wonderful collection of art exhibitions. I recommend Matisse at MoMA, Masterpieces from the Scottish National Gallery at the Frick, Cubism at the Met, and photos of Yosemite by Carleton Watkins.

Check museum web sites for hearing accessibility information.

I also enjoy studying art on my smart phone. Go to the app, which is really weekly.

When I want to get away from all the noise and tumult, I turn off my iPhone and head for my favorite “quiet place” in the city, the recently reopened Chinese Garden Court at the Met. For more quiet spaces check out TimeOut New York.

Shopping made accessible to people with hearing loss

Shopping on a computer is easy because you don’t have to deal with people you can’t hear or understand. I do like hands-on browsing at craft fairs and museums, which are a lot less crowded than big box stores. These smaller stores have a large selection of unusual gifts. My favorite shops are the Grand Central Station Craft Show, Rubin Museum, the Museum of the City of New York, the Jewish Museum and, of course, the Met, where I get a staff discount.

Along with shopping for gifts, I suggest refreshing battery supplies for hearing aids, cochlear implants and assistive listening devices (ALDs). If a battery goes dead in the middle of a conversation, I say “The number you have reached is temporarily disconnected,” remove my aid, replace the battery – I always carry spares – replace the aid and announce, “We are connected!” The whole operation usually takes no more than the time it took you to read this and, because of the humor I add to a potentially embarrassing situation, brings a smile to the faces of the people I’m talking with.

Entertainment and more

For theatergoers, TDF/TAP presents captioned shows all year round. Additionally, HLAA NYC has arranged for special prices at the newly looped Nederlander Theaters.

To enjoy captioned movies, check out individual movie houses and movie chain listings including Regal and AMC for listings. Watching captioned movies at home is fun on free and premium TV stations. You can also borrow free captioned movies from your local library. Look for the letters CC in TV listings or for those letters and/or a small television screen in the film description.

For ideas about how to travel when you have a hearing loss read my travel blog post from a couple of years ago.

Although my iPhone has a dictation app I use if I can’t understand the person I’m talking to, I recommend carrying the low tech, inexpensive assistive device – pencil and paper.

We would love to hear about the way you communicate!

Have a happy holiday season and a healthy and peaceful New Year!

Ruth Bernstein Consumer Advocate

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