In today’s world, travel is an everyday part of people’s lives. We get around our communities and cities by car, trains, or buses. We catch flights to other cities or countries to explore those places and learn more.
But in the travel industry, Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals don’t seem to be represented. There are no tailored itineraries for individuals who have hearing loss that gives them the accessibility to guides who will speak the same sign language or who are able to provide not only oral but written information about the places they visit. It is a barrier when you’re trying to learn something new about the country from the guide giving the tour, but you can’t hear what she or he says.
So, can hard of hearing individuals travel?
Yes!! Normal hearing folks travel all the time. Deaf individuals like Nyle DiMarco, and two instagrammers I follow, Stacey and Jason have and still do travel. Anyone can do it, no matter what hearing limitations they may have. In fact, another instagram couple–Cris and Sergi–left their native country of Spain and are now travelling around, and meeting people from the Deaf community. All of these individuals made it happen. You can too!
Should hard of hearing individuals travel?
Absolutely! It’s enriching, and eye-opening. Not only do you learn about the world around you, try new foods, and meet new people you typically wouldn’t, you learn about yourself. I recommend it thoroughly, here’s why.
What precautions should hard of hearing travellers take?
Be aware of your surroundings, and keep your wits about.. Don’t be afraid to speak up for what you need, and don’t be taken aback if someone seems to be hurtful/ignorant. Alas, not everyone in the world is fully educated on hearing loss and deafness, so you’ll have to repeat yourself often, and have a lot of patience when dealing with people. Still, don’t be deterred from travelling because of a few ignorant people.
Most importantly, why should I travel?
You should travel because:
-the world is beautiful
-you will learn something new
-you will experience a different way of living
-you will make connections–both with people of all types of abilities, communities, animals and countries
-you will get a better understanding of yourself and the world around you
-travelling has health benefits (you will do a lot of walking or maybe you’ll discover you really liked yoga)
-and mental benefits such as enchancing creativity, giving you distance from a problem to see it another way, stress relief, and strengthening relationships
-you make friendships that last a lifetime, and at the very least, these touches of people’s life on yours will change you
-it will challenge you
-makes you happier
-makes you more resilient
And you see, nowhere in the above list does it require you to be anything other than yourself. There’s no pre-requisite that you have to be a certain way.
But what about communicating?
That’s the beauty of it. You don’t need language to communciate with a person from a different country. You’d be surprise how far using your hands can take you when communicating.
What if….No! No what ifs! Stop that brain of yours from worrying about what ifs and book that ticket to London, Bangkok, Tokyo, Lima, or wherever that you were dreaming of, and start living! So you don’t have the answers to everything–no one does–but that doesn’t mean that you should worry about something or other and not experience what you have wanted. Through travel, you will learn how to answer those questions and how to handle what ifs, as well as many various situations that you may have not thought about.