Coffee Talk

Hearing Aids and Travel

Recently, I got an email from one of you, my dear readers with questions about traveling with hearing aids. As you may know, hearing aids and cochlear implants are expensive pieces of equipment that make our lives that much better. But they’re also highly visible–whether you want them to be or not. So here I attempt to try to answer your anticipated questions.

Is it okay to show your hearing aids/ cochlear implants during travels? Yes. Absolutely it is all right to do it, because this is something for your comfort, not anyone else’s.

So as a woman, I can wear my hair up? If that’s what you’re comfortable with and feel like doing, absolutely. And if you’re a guy (or a girl), who keeps his /her hair short, it’s still good. So long as you are comfortable.

But, is it safe? Ah, now we get to the meat of your concerns, and the answer isn’t a straight one. For the most part, wearing hearing aids isn’t a problem, but it’s understandable that you might not feel safe wearing them sometimes. The truth is, my dear reader, that not many people know what hearing aids or cochlear implants are, and they don’t know the financial value of the hearing aid or a CI. It’s not like people walk down the street and upon noticing you wearing your hearing aid thing “Oh, that person is rich.” It doesn’t work that way. Most people don’t notice because they don’t pay attention, pretend not to notice out of politeness, or don’t care. If they think anything, it will be that this person is disabled or cannot hear as well as they ought to. So yes, it’s safe.

Can I get robbed for my hearing aids/ CIs? I presume it is possible to be targeted for hearing aids (not sure about CIs), but a lot of things would have to happen in order for someone to rob you for that. First of all, they would have to know what hearing aids are, how much they cost, and which types of hearing aids they need. Then they need to know who has hearing aids, and who wears that specific type of hearing aid that they need. That could take a while to figure out, and let’s be honest, as travelers, we don’t tend to stay in one place for very long. Then, they would need to figure out how to get those hearing aids off of you, because you most likely wear them on your ears, and would notice if someone was touching your earlobes. It’s a lot of work for a robber, with very little reward, so the chances that it happens in a well traversed area (such as a tourist attraction) is unlikely.

Can I get be the target of a robbery because of my hearing aids/ CIs? Yes, like all travelers, you are a target for robbers and pickpockets. Because you are a tourist, you are a target for scams, and higher prices at restaurants that prey on unsuspecting tourists. But that’s not because you are hard of hearing or deaf. It’s because you are a tourist. That said, it may be easier to rob you or me because we can’t hear well, and can’t make out where some sound is coming from, so we can easily be confused, which makes us an easier target. I’ve yet to encounter a scenario where I was the target of a robbery or scam because someone was well aware of my hearing loss.  And I can’t tell for certain if this has actually happened to someone because no one talks about it–there’s no information out on the public world wide web.

What can I do to avoid being a target? It’s easier said then done, but most of the general rules and advise applies: Keep your wits about you, be aware of your surrounding, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security, check to make sure no one follows you, do your research before you go to know what is a tourist trap and what isn’t, stay in brightly lit areas with lots of foot traffic.  If you’re uncomfortable in an area, leave, don’t linger. If something happens that leaves you disoriented or confused, go somewhere that you feel safe. Lastly, this is probably the hardest one, because I know that it’s hard for me since I can’t locate where sounds are coming from: Don’t  go towards the source of that sound.

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