The holidays can be a stressful time for anyone. But when there are communication barriers, it can be ~extra~ stressful.

If you are Deaf or hard-of-hearing yourself, this is for you. We’ve been there before… everyone’s chatting and laughing around the dinner table, but it’s impossible to follow along.

Image Credit: iStock

But don’t worry! We’ve got a few tips that will help you be prepared and survive the holiday season without feeling defeated.

1. Communicate your needs

It can be certainly out of your comfort zone, but if you’re open about your communication challenges, it’s more likely that people are willing to accommodate.

A simple FYI can go a long way for the rest of the event: “Please speak slowly and face me. I might ask you to repeat, so please be patient with me.

2. Bring any tools or equipment

If you prefer to communicate using technology, make sure to be familiar with them and have them handy!

During one-on-one conversations, you can use the Ava app with a Bluetooth microphone (we suggest using a HeyMic as it can reach far distances).

Image of two Ava members using a microphone to get captions easily

The Ava App is available for download on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

3. Get others involved

People can be more willing than you think! Give those around you an opportunity to get involved in making the night more accessible.

An easy way to get people involved is to have them join on the Ava app so that you can see who is saying what. It doesn’t cost them a thing and they don’t need to download any apps!

Just share your Ava QR code and anyone can quickly join your Ava conversation!

4. Chat with those seated closer to you

If you don’t use sign language, it may be harder to converse with people across the table. That’s okay! Keep the conversation close to where you’re sitting so you don’t have to strain as hard to understand what they are saying.

5. Set reasonable expectations for yourself

Chances are, the holiday event may not go as perfectly as you hope. You might miss something or be left out of a joke. Even if this happens, try to enjoy the parts that you can!

While this isn’t an ideal situation and it’s certainly shouldn’t fall on your shoulders to set these expectations, just keep in mind that it is a possibility and try your best not to let it ruin your night.

6. Have some responses ready to go

Odds are someone may ask an uncomfortable or even offensive question (we all know that uncle!).

Come prepared with what you’d want to say. That way, you’re in control of the conversation and you can even navigate the conversation to move on from the topic if you’re really uncomfortable.

You can make this a learning moment for them, but if it’s not in your capacity, don’t put that pressure on yourself! You may never see that person again and it’s not your responsibility to change anyone’s mind.

7. Take Breaks

Trying to follow along during conversations can be exhausting, even when you have assistive technology or a someone to help interpret.

Just remember, it’s okay to get some air or take a walk when you start to feel your energy dwindle down. You’re allowed to take a break!

If this isn’t possible, make some time for self-care after the event to look forward to. Take the rest of the night or the following day for some TLC!

8. Don’t fake it

We’ve all done this at some point… nodding and going along as if you caught everything that was said. Challenge yourself to speak up and say something when you are having trouble understanding. That way, you don’t feel perpetually left out!

If you do rely on residual hearing, one subtle way you can show you can’t understand is cupping your hand to your ear. That way, it doesn’t have to feel awkward or interrupt the conversation!

The holidays are a time to get together with loved ones and practice gratitude. With these tips, we hope that you have the tools you need to not just survive, but really appreciate the holiday season. Do your best and make the most out of this time!

Happy holidays from the Ava Team!

Post by Ava
May 18, 2022

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