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Five great hearing-friendly destinations

Contributed by , staff writer for Healthy Hearing

It’s rumored that Americans have fewer vacation days than most of our European colleagues, so why waste that precious PTO traveling to places that can’t accommodate your hearing loss? We’ve done some preliminary research for you and discovered five great hearing-friendly destinations for you to visit. All you have to do is make the reservations. Don’t forget to request any special accommodations you may need – such as sign language interpreters – well in advance of your travels.

Walt Disney World

If you’re thinking that a trip to Walt Disney World might be more chaotic if you have a family member with hearing loss, think again. Leave it to Walt Disney to provide the best access for all of their guests, regardless of their disabilities. So whether you’re traveling with a child who has hearing loss or you’re a grandparent with hearing loss who wants to take your grandchildren on a special vacation, Disney has you covered.

Inside the park:

Make your first stop at Guest Services to inquire about these services for guests with hearing impairments:

Disney makes a great spot for individuals with hearing loss
Walt Disney World has multiple
offerings for individuals with 
hearing loss!
  • Assistive Listening: Best for guests with mild to moderate hearing loss, this system amplifies sound through headphones or an induction loop at specific theme park attractions.
  • Handheld Captioning: Uses a wireless handheld receiver to display text in attractions which aren’t suitable for fixed captioning, such as moving attractions.
  • Reflective Captioning: Select theater-style attractions reflect text on an acrylic glass panel in front of the guest.
  • Video Captioning: Ask a cast member about caption-ready monitors, designated with a “CC” at some attractions which can also be activated using Disney’s handheld device for a $25 refundable deposit.
  • Sign Language Interpretation: Sign language interpretation is available on a rotating basis at specific live theme park shows. Requests for interpretation at other special events can be made a minimum of 14 days in advance.
  • Written aids: Guest Assistance Packets, including dialogue, pens and paper are located at the entrance of many attractions.

When you reserve your room at Walt Disney Resorts, these services are available upon request:

Universal Studios Hollywood

Not everyone who goes to Hollywood becomes a star – but you can definitely get red carpet treatment at Universal Studios in Hollywood. Go behind the scenes on a real working movie studio, and become part of your favorite movies at the park’s rides and shows.

Assistive listening devices are available at Guest Relations free of charge. Amplified handsets are available at all telephone locations for guests with mild to moderate hearing loss. Sign language interpreters are provided at no charge to guests who request them at least one week in advance.

Although there are no hotels at the theme park, there are several hotels nearby. Not all of them provide services for the hearing impaired; however, Hilton Universal Hollywood Hotel offers closed captioning televisions or decoders, TTY telephones and visual alarms upon request.

Cruise Ships

Cruise ships are a lot like floating hotels -- you only have to unpack your suitcase one time as you travel from port to port and explore the world. According to Cruise Critic, while most cruise ships accommodate guests with hearing impairments, there are a few which do a better job than the others.

Royal Caribbean Quantum and Freedom Class

Throw a dart on the map and chances are Royal Caribbean offers a cruise to that part of the world. From 4 night cruises to the Bahamas to a Global Odyssey cruise which will take you from New York to Shanghai, there’s something for every type of wanderlust. Check with your local travel agent for help in booking a Royal Caribbean cruise, making sure to request any special assistance you need for your hearing loss well in advance.

On Freedom Class ships, guests can take advantage of sign language interpreters (sailing from the United States to Canada), portable room kits, assistive listening devices and closed-captioned telephones. On the Quantum of the Seas, the Royal Theater is equipped with an assistive listening system.

Holland America’s Vista Class

This cruise line’s entire fleet is especially in-tune to guests with hearing disabilities; however, their Vista Class ships offer special equipment upon request which include TTY/TTD telephones.

Holland America cruises vary in length from weekend cruises to their private island in the Bahamas to Grand World Voyages which sail you around the world via exotic ports of call such as Hong Kong, Easter Island, Barcelona and Rio de Janeiro. Your travel agent can help you make arrangements, including any special needs you may have for your hearing impairment.

Branson, Missouri

If you’re a fan of live shows, then Branson, Missouri is the place for you. From illusionists to comedians and tribute bands to acrobats, Branson offers more than 120 live shows – more theater seats than Broadway -- for every taste and pocketbook. Big name entertainers include Clint Black, Charley Pride and Bill Cosby, along with Sandi Patty, Loretta Lynn and Johnny Mathis.

Theaters are more than happy to provide interpreters for their patrons with hearing impairments with sufficient advance notice. Most of Branson’s 200 places to lodge – boasting more rooms than Las Vegas -- also offer services for hearing impaired guests. Just be sure to request any special services you may need well in advance of your stay.

If live shows aren’t your cup of tea, you might appreciate Branson’s great golfing, fishing and hiking opportunities.

National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

Cooperstown, New York

If you’re a big baseball fan, you might want to plan a trip to Cooperstown New York during Hall of Fame week. Typically held the last week in July, baseball’s most exciting weekend features new inductees into the Hall of Fame along with a host of favorites who return each year. The awards presentation is free and open to the public. Professional interpreters are provided for the hearing impaired during the Induction Ceremony.

Inside the museum, everything is captioned – included Abbottand Costello’s “Who’s on First” comedy routine. There are three floors of baseball history, with discounted admission rates for seniors and children 7-12 years of age.

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