Travel Tips for Hearing Impaired People

This brochure is a copy of an American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery Public Service Brochure.

This site maintainted by Peter J. Casano, M.D., (601) 932-5244 Jackson, MS

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Travel is a very important aspect of our lives. Whether for business, pleasure, or education, the traveler strives to be as relaxed and comfortable as possible. The 20 million people in the United States with hearing impairments are faced with numerous obstacles that can make traveling a difficult and frustrating event. Consider for a moment the everyday travel routines that may cause problems for the hearing impaired.

Inability to hear or understand airline boarding and in-flight announcements;

Difficulty in using public telephones, hotel phones, etc.

Difficulty making hotel and transportation reservations;

Inability to hear or understand scheduled events such as planned activities, tours, museum lectures, and theater presentations;

Inability to hear hotel room telephones, someone knocking on the door, or warning signals such as smoke detectors;

Lack of oral and/or sign language interpreters;

Lack of accommodations for hearing ear dogs.

Making Travel Arrangements

Here are some tips for making traveling easier for hearing impaired people.

Try to make all travel arrangements in advance. Once transportation reservations have been made, request written confirmation to insure correct information. Always inform the ticket representative that you are hearing impaired.

If possible, plans should be arranged in person with a travel agent to allow the opportunity for speech reading or, if necessary, written exchange to help confirm travel plans. Agents can contact airlines, hotels, and attractions to make necessary reservations.

It is important to arrive early at the airport, bus terminal, or train station. Inform the individual at the boarding gate that you are hearing impaired and may not hear the boarding announcement. Request that the agent contact you when it is time to board.

Confirm the flight number and destination before boar ding.

Inform the flight attendant that you are hearing impaired and request that any in-flight announcements be communicated to you in person.

In order to assist individuals who require the use of a TDD (Telecommunication Device for the Deaf), many major airlines and transportation companies have TDD service.

Major transportation companies with toll-free TDD service include:

Alaska Airlines: --------------------------- 800-682-2221
America West Airlines: --------------------------- 800-526-8077
American Airlines: --------------------------- 800-543-1586
Continental Airlines: --------------------------- 800-343-8185
Delta Airlines: --------------------------- 800-831-4488
Northwest Airlines: --------------------------- 800-328-2298
Pan American Airlines: --------------------------- 800-722-3323
Southwest Airlines: --------------------------- 800-533-1305
TWA: --------------------------- 800-421-8480
United Airlines: --------------------------- 800-323-0170
U.S. Air: --------------------------- 800-245-2966
Trailways/Greyhound Bus: --------------------------- 800-345-3109
AMTRAK; --------------------------- 800-523-6590
Avis Car Rental: --------------------------- 800-331-2323
Budget Car Rental: --------------------------- 800-826-5510
Hertz Car Rental: --------------------------- 800-654-2280
National Car Rental: --------------------------- 800-328-6323

TDDs are available in many major airports. Ask at the Traveler's Aid desk for information.


All public telephones should now have a "blue grommet" attachment to the handset indicating it is compatible with the "T" switch in hearing aids. Some banks of public phones have at least one amplifying handset. Or, you may purchase a pocket amplifier from your hearing aid dispenser. If necessary, ask someone to place a brief call for you. You will be surprised at how cooperative people are.

Hotel Accommodations

Confirm all lodging reservations in writing.

Inform the receptionist at the front desk of your hotel or motel that you are hearing impaired. This is very important in case of an emergency.

Certain major hotel chains, such as Holiday Inn, Marriott, and Sheraton, now provide visual alerting devices to help the hearing impaired traveler recognize the ring of the telephone, a knock on the door, or a fire/emergency alarm. It may be advisable, however, to contact the hotel in advance to make the necessary arrangements. When you register, ask if such equipment is available. They are frequently provided free of charge to hotel guests.

It is important that you recommend the use of alerting devices to all hotels that do not currently provide them. Tell them to contact SHHH-Travel for information.

Inquire if your hotel has amplified or compatible telephones, TTYs [teletype writer), television amplifiers, or closed-captioned television for your use.

Major hotel chains with toll-free TDD reservation service include:

Best Western:---------------------------800-528-2222
Days Inn of America: ---------------------------800-222-3297
Hampton Inn: ---------------------------800-451-HTDD
Hilton Hotel:---------------------------800-368-1133
Holiday Inn: ---------------------------800-238-5544
Marriott Hotel: ---------------------------800-228-7014
Quality Inn: ---------------------------800-228-3323
Ramada Inn & Renaissance Hotel: ---------------------------800-228-3232
Sheraton Hotel: ---------------------------800-325-1717
Super 8 Motel: ---------------------------800-533-6634

Assistive Listening and Other Assistive Devices

There are many visual alert systems and assistive listening devices that can be useful while traveling.

Telephone amplifiers and induction couplers can be attached to public or hotel phones and can help to increase the volume of the telephone. Induction couplers also make the telephone compatible with your hearing aid telecoil. ATRT produces handsets such as the G6 and G66 which plug easily into any modular telephone.
Contact National Assistive Device Center at 8160 Madison Ave, Burr Ridge, IL 60521, 800.288-8303 Voice/TTY. Their web site is
The HITEC Assistive Communications Center at Other vendors include Audex, Unex, Siemens Hearing Instruments, and Sutherland Industries. For a more complete listing of assistive listening and other assistive devices, please write Self Help for Hard of Hearing People, Inc., 7910 Woodmont Ave Suite 1200, Bethesda, MD 20814, or phone 301/657-2248, 301/657-2249 (tty) 301/913-9413 FAX; Web

Another helpful site is The Ameritech Special Needs Center at

There are small, portable visual alerting systems available that can flash a light when the telephone rings or fire alarm sounds. These can be transported and easily installed in hotel rooms.

FM assistive listening systems can provide direct amplification in large areas using radio frequency. They can help the hearing impaired traveler listen to lectures, tours, etc., by simply having the speaker use a transmitter microphone, broadcasting his/her presentation over the air waves to the hard of hearing person's receiver.

Portable infrared systems can be easily used with hotel televisions and radios. These transmit sound via invisible infrared light to a listener's receiver.

Portable wake-up alarms can be used to flash a light or vibrate a bed or pillow.

There are portable TV band radios that can be tuned to TV channels and listened to through an earphone. You can set the volume to suit yourself and watch TV without disturbing others.

Hearing Aids

If you wear a hearing aid, be sure to pack extra batteries and tubing. These may be difficult to obtain in some travel spots. There are many things hearing impaired people can do to help make their travels safe, comfortable, and enjoyable. Travel does not have to be avoided because of a hearing loss. Travel can be successful. So plan ahead, inform your fellow travelers, transportation hosts, and hotel clerks that you have a hearing problem, obtain any necessary assistive devices, and enjoy yourself!

Additional Sources of Information

SATH (Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality)
347 Fifth Ave, Suite 610
New York, NY 10016
Tel: 212 447 7284
Fax: 212 725 8253

1991. This leaflet is published as a public service; material may be freely used for noncommercial purposes so long as attribution is given to the American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, Inc.,One Prince Street, Alexandria VA 22314-3357