Planning a Valentine’s Day Date with Hearing Loss

Valentine’s Day brings more than bouquets of roses and boxes of chocolates—for those with hearing loss, the noise of a crowded restaurant or cocktail party can make it difficult to comprehend their partner’s speech. For the 48 million Americans with hearing loss, this can mean missing out on special moments and spoiling the day over frustration caused by regular misunderstandings.

Whether you or a loved one suffer from hearing loss, the two of you can prepare for your Valentine’s Day date by following these simple tips:

Find a quiet space in the venue

Although you can’t always predict whether a loud group of people will be present during your date, you can ask the staff or host to offer a table or location that is away from distracting pockets of noise. In a restaurant, this can mean staying away from the bar, kitchen, or any televisions in the dining area. When asking for accommodations, note that tables with chairs are generally louder than a booth. If you are at a cocktail party, try not to stand too close to any loudspeakers playing music and avoid large crowds.

Wear your hearing aids

Today’s hearing aids are built to adapt to loud environments. Digital technology allows your device to home in on sound coming from the direction of your attention, while filtering out unwanted background noise. Additionally, you can adjust the settings on your unit easily using a smartphone and even save settings for specific listening environments for later use. By using your hearing aids consistently, they will automatically learn how to alter the sound environment to best suit your hearing needs in any situation. Be sure to bring any chargers or necessary accessories before going out to avoid unexpected issues.

Know ahead of time what services are provided

Many venues that rely on audio such as movie theaters, concert halls, and stadiums offer services for those with hearing loss. If you have a modern hearing aid, you can connect to these venues’ induction loop systems by using the built-in T-coil. This feature allows users to tune into these systems by simply switching to the “T” setting while near the magnetic field generated by the induction loop. Your hearing aids then receive the pure and undistorted sound signal directly, without needing an external assistant listening device. Other venues may provide accommodations such as increased lighting to help you read the lips of your partner, so it’s important not to be afraid to speak up for your hearing needs—in most cases, workers are required by law to assist you.

Show up to your date early

Any waiter or cook will tell you that Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest days of the year. The same goes for other popular date spots such as bowling alleys and casinos, making it important to arrive before the evening rush. Showing up ahead of time means you can pick the best seating—if you are at a movie theater, try to sit front and center to get the clearest sound.

Be honest about your concerns

Your partner should be one of the most valuable resources in your hearing restoration journey. By having an open discussion with them about your needs, you can establish guidelines to improve comprehension and avoid miscommunication. Asking for direct eye contact, slower and clearer speech delivery, and increased volume are all simple suggestions that can make your evening comfortable and special.