Black Friday shopping with hearing loss
Black Friday: You either love it or hate it. You either gleefully participate in the melee every year, or sit home with a cup of hot cocoa and let others duke it out for discounted electronics and cashmere sweaters. No judgment here. But what if you are a Black Friday devotee and also happen to have hearing loss? Can you still participate in the deal-grabbing, door busting chaos that is the biggest shopping day of the year? The answer is yes. With a little planning and foresight, you’ll be shopping like a pro with the best of them the day after Thanksgiving.
“Big box” stores are notoriously difficult hearing environments due to their high ceilings, tile floors and poor acoustics, even on a normal day. Add in the overwhelming noise level of an enormous crowd of Black Friday shoppers and you have a recipe for frustration and exhaustion. Try shopping in smaller, locally owned stores, museum shops or craft fairs instead. Fewer people equals less noise, plus you will be supporting your local economy.
- Call ahead of time to see if the stores you plan to shop at are hearing friendly. For example: do they have loop systems installed or someone on staff that can assist?
- Take a friend with you, and let them know what items you are looking for. Your friend can help by relaying important information about prices or store announcements that you might otherwise miss.
- Arrange for non-verbal cues, such as hand signals or text messages with your friend, regarding any important information they might need to communicate.
- Make a list ahead of time of the items you are shopping for. Staying focused on your list is key amid loud crowds and chaos.
- If you can, map out the store ahead of time so you don’t have to rely on asking a store employee where your items are.
- Make sure your cell phone is fully charged and loaded up with any coupon codes you might need, to avoid having prolonged conversation at the register.
- Speak up. When it comes to hearing loss, you are your own best advocate. Let staff know you have hearing loss so they can offer help if needed, and let you know what services might be available for you (such as a loop induction system).
- Take frequent breaks throughout the day. Shopping can be exhausting, even without struggling with hearing loss. Put your feet up, have a latte or grab lunch with a friend in a quiet setting in between snapping up the deals.
- Bring a calculator to keep a running tally of your purchases, and double check that against your receipt so you don’t have to rely on hearing the cashier announce your total.
- Ask store staff closed-ended questions like “Do you have this in blue?” for example, instead of “What other colors does this come in?”
Whether you have hearing loss, wear hearing aids or hear just fine, Black Friday shopping can be exhausting. Make sure to plan ahead if you plan to go out this year.
If you have hearing aids
Just because you wear hearing aids doesn’t mean you have to be left out of the fun, or that your day has to be cut short due to the frustration of not being able to hear properly. There are steps you can take to make sure your shopping day goes as smoothly as possible without any glitches due to hearing aid malfunctions.
- Some retail stores offer loop induction systems for hearing aid users. When a store is outfitted with a loop system, it may be advertised in flyers or with a sign at the entrance Just look for the sticker on the door featuring the international symbol of access for hearing loss. If you don’t see a sign, be sure to ask.
- To take advantage of a store’s loop system, just set your hearing aids to the telecoil setting.
- In cold weather, make sure to wear earmuffs or a scarf to cover your ears when walking outside in between stores. This will not only keep wind, rain and moisture out of your hearing aids, but will also keep extreme cold from shortening the battery life.
- Make sure your hearing aid batteries are charged before you leave home.
- Bring an extra set of batteries with you just in case.
- See a hearing care professional to get your hearing aids tuned up and cleaned before the holidays start, a good idea even if you aren’t planning on any Black Friday shopping!
You might want to consider wearing a streaming device such as the Oticon Streamer Pro, for example, which is a small mic and receiver worn with a neck loop. Eliminating the need for receivers worn on the hearing aids, it lessens the weight worn on the ears and increases battery life so you can shop ‘til you drop. The Streamer Pro connects to devices such as your cell phone so you can hear clearly without background noise, essential for hearing that phone call from your friend across town letting you know about a great deal on plasma TVs!
Don’t feel like fighting the crowds? It’s okay, you can still shop online. Wait until Cyber Monday, when great deals are available from the comfort of your own home. Just one last tip: don’t forget the cocoa.