With the holiday season upon us, more and more Americans are flying the “friendly” skies to visit and celebrate with loved ones. But for the approximately 39 million Americans with hearing loss, making it through airport security can prove difficult.
In addition to the long lines, weather delays, and baggage fees, individuals with hearing loss have to deal with difficulty communicating with TSA agents and worries about how the screening procedures will affect their hearing aids.
Fortunately, the Transportation Security Administration has issued guidelines to help travelers with hearing loss and other disabilities. They include:
- If the screening process is unclear to you, ask the Security Officer to write the information down
- If you can read lips or are hard of hearing, ask the Security Officer to look directly at you and repeat the information slowly
- If you need to communicate with the Security Officer, inform her/him of your disability and the way in which you can communicate. TSA Security Officers are trained to provide whatever assistance they can to persons with hearing disabilities
- It is not necessary to remove hearing aids or the exterior component of a cochlear implant at security checkpoints
- It is best if you wear your hearing aids while going through the metal detector
- According to Otolaryngologist and Otolaryngology surgeons, hearing devices such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, external component of cochlear implants, and middle ear implants are not affected by X-ray inspection, the walk-through metal detector, or the hand-held metal detector
- If you are concerned or uncomfortable with going through the walk-thorough metal detector, or are uneasy with having your external component of your cochlear implant X-rayed, you can ask for a full body pat-down of your person and a visual and physical inspection of the exterior component while it remains on your body
- If you use a hearing dog, you and the dog will remain together at all times while going through the security checkpoint.
If you have questions about your hearing aids or how better cope with communication challenges at the holidays or any other time, contact your local audiologist or hearing aid specialist.
If you experience any hearing aids issues while traveling this holiday season, find a local hearing center in the town you are visiting in our Find a Professional section featuring over 4300 independent Hearing Professionals throughout the US and Canada.
The editorial staff at Healthy Hearing wishes you a happy and safe holiday season!