Strategies for Making Outdoor Gatherings Less Stressful for People with Hearing Loss

August 18, 2023
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With a few rounds of Covid quarantine under our belt, it’s obvious that some quirks of the pandemic have become part of our culture. It doesn’t look like the work from home trend is losing any steam, for instance. Another pandemic byproduct seems to be an uptick in spending time outdoors, either recreationally or via entertaining.

If you have hearing loss, you may have avoided backyard barbecues in the past because of the anticipated listening barriers. Don’t stay home on account of challenged hearing, here are some strategies for making outdoor gatherings less stressful.

Loud Crowds Turn Up The Volume

RSVPing for a group event causes anxiety for the millions of people in the United States that live with hearing loss. Simply because of their size, conversational barriers can be particularly high in large gatherings. One of the primary obstacles that people with difficulty hearing face is a decrease in the intelligibility of speech. As background noise is always more extreme in group gatherings and party settings,  hearing-impaired folks may find it much more difficult to carry on a conversation. And that can feel discouraging enough in anticipation to prompt skipping the party.

The Perils Of An Outdoor Bash For People With Hearing Loss 

So, those who suffer from hearing loss already have a harder time at large gatherings, and moving the festivities outside can only make things worse. People tend to use the expanded space around them when outdoors, improvising seating arrangements and gathering in loose clumps. Because of this, it can be difficult to find an intimate dialogue space where hearing loss impacted individuals can be understood and hear others clearly.

In addition, few households have high-quality, commercial grade stereo equipment. Most music at a garden party is played on basic bluetooth speakers turned up to eleven, contributing to the general din. Even worse, there might be a live band playing, ruining hope for an easy conversation. 

Improve Your Odds On Enjoying An Outdoor Party, Even With Hearing Loss

Those with hearing impairments may feel anxious about attending an outdoor event with a big number of people, but there are steps they may take to feel more comfortable. 

Use Your Hearing Aids

Not only should you make sure to bring your hearing aids, take care to have them fully charged. Assistive listening devices can make the difference between treading water in conversation versus floating with little effort. 

Location Matters And Impacts Speech Clarity

Be assertive when you arrive at the party, scoping out nooks that will support your need for conversation boosters. Invite a friend in that area or station yourself there so that the other guests come to you. 

Place yourself far away from the speakers or stage where the music is being played. It can really help to sit with your back against a wall or fence to reduce ambient noise as much as possible. Also, the bar, kitchen, and food tables will likely be very crowded, so try to avoid stationing yourself in those areas. 

Remember That Visual Cues Help Understanding In Speech

If you have trouble hearing, your eyes are an often forgotten asset when carrying on a conversation. Your conversation partner’s facial expressions and lip movements might play a big role in communication. Furthermore, since sound waves propagate best along a straight line, positioning yourself directly in front of the other person or people will help amplify the sound you wish to hear.

When seated at a table for a group activity, be sure no flowers or other decorations are blocking your view of other guests’ faces. If it’s an evening gathering, situate yourself near a light source. People’s faces can be more easily seen in brighter lighting, providing you with crucial additional context information. 

Let Your Hosts Know About Your Concerns In Advance

A large part of successfully throwing any part is owed in large part to preparation. Share the weight of your anxiety by letting your host know that you have trouble hearing and that you find outdoor gatherings and huge groups particularly intimidating. If you’re comfortable doing so, tell them how they can assist you in a few specific ways. 

Schedule A Visit With Us

We work with people to create their best possible hearing life. If your hearing has experienced recent changes or if you’re ready to prioritize your hearing health, schedule a visit with us today.