Things are definitely improving when it comes to accessible tourism.
Holidays for deaf & hard of hearing travellers
Hearing impairment may be a ‘hidden disability’ but it’s one about which increasing numbers of tourism operators and destinations are becoming significantly more aware. At Responsible Travel we believe that having difficulty hearing, or being unable to hear anything at all, shouldn’t mean you should be prevented from travelling the world, and it also shouldn’t mean that your experiences while doing so should be any less rewarding than those that can hear well. To that end, we work with our holiday companies to learn about the different ways they can accommodate guests that are deaf or have limited hearing, and we encourage them to keep doing more wherever possible.
In major tourism destinations, many attractions such as museums and art galleries offer induction loop systems, written information, or guides that can sign. However, our more adventurous trips tend to avoid the tourist hotspots in favour of lesser visited places and communities, where these facilities are not likely to be as commonplace. But so long as the operator has sufficient time to prepare and you can be flexible, there’s no reason why hearing difficulties should be a significant issue.
We have several accessible holidays that operate in remote destinations, including tours of Mongolia. If you use hearing aids then you may be advised to bring an extra set with you, as well as extra batteries, cleaning equipment, spare parts and a voltage converter for charging, as finding replacements while on the ground is difficult. You may also want to think about bringing a phone or tablet with a translation app pre-loaded to help with communication where necessary.
AccommodationOn many of these trips the accommodations used may be quite basic, and amenities such as induction loop systems, light / vibration alarms and clear signage, may well not be present. Operators will be able to inform you in advance of travel on what to expect from each place that you’ll be staying.
Guides & interpreters
Depending on the location, local guides that are proficient in sign language can be arranged with enough advance notice, though this may sometimes be at a supplement. In other situations, where guides that can sign are in short supply, such as Cuba, tablet devices may be used to convey information, or in Mongolia you may be advised to travel with a companion that can interpret for you. In India, there are tailor made tours that specialise in groups with a range of requirements, so that you can be confident of being able to travel solo if you wish, with a signing interpreter available to you throughout to lay out information clearly.
Written informationBefore taking any trip you will receive detailed written information about your itinerary day-by-day, which naturally will be stuck to as accurately as possible but may be subject to change depending on conditions on the ground. On some tours, such as cruises of the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, you can also expect a fresh written agenda every day while aboard, and the option to speak with someone one-on-one if necessary.
If you'd like to chat about Accessible travel or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.
Our travel team is always happy to discuss your particular requirements when it comes to accessibility. If we know early in the process exactly what you need then through communication with suppliers we can make appropriate holiday recommendations, and ensure that every aspect of your trip will meet your needs, from accommodation to meals and support.
Travelling companionsNot all of our trips are suitable for solo travel when you are deaf or hard of hearing. One example is adventure tours in Mongolia, where guides and hosts are unlikely to speak very good English, let alone be able to communicate by signing, so lip-reading will be tricky. In instances such as this, the holidays companies are likely to suggest traveling in the company of someone you know, who can interpret information for you.
As with providing guides who can sign, as long as suppliers have sufficient advanced notice that you are deaf or hard of hearing, many activities can be successfully adapted so that you can take full part. There will be some activities, such water sports, where you may be advised not to wear your hearing aids if you use them, or countries where the heat and dust may mean you need to take extra precautions with your equipment, such as when on safari.
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