York University educator offers tips to include deaf and hard-of-hearing guests
TORONTO, December 5, 2019 – The sounds of the holidays, with Christmas carols blasting and holiday movies playing, can be especially tough for grandparents who are hard of hearing and children who wear hearing aids.
That makes it especially important for people hosting holiday parties to find ways to include these guests, says Pam Millett, an audiologist and an associate professor in the Faculty of Education with more than 30 years of experience working with children and adults with hearing loss.
Holiday party hosts need to ensure everyone can take part in the celebrations, Millett says. Senior citizens, for example, may experience hearing loss due to the natural aging process and have difficulty communicating in situations like a large family dinner. She says research has linked untreated or unmanaged hearing loss in seniors to social isolation, depression, poorer family relationships, and even early onset of cognitive decline. For children with diagnosed hearing loss who use hearing aids or cochlear implants, they may struggle with participating in noisy, fast-paced holiday activities.
“It’s tiring to have a hearing loss because it takes more energy to listen, and it’s especially tiring in social settings around the holidays when there’s more noise,” says Millett.
A leading educational audiologist, Millett’s research focuses on maximizing the use of technology in the classroom to ensure students with hearing loss, from JK to post-secondary, can hear clearly and participate fully. She writes a quarterly column in Canadian Audiologist on what educational audiology is and how audiologists support students with hearing loss.
Millett can share tips to host an inclusive holiday party with guests who are deaf and hard of hearing, including:
- Lower the volume on background music to make hearing easier
- Make sure there’s adequate lighting, even if hosting a candlelit meal
- Encourage guests to speak one at a time, instead of talking over each other
- Speak a little more slowly and look toward the person with the hearing loss during group conversations
- Set up the TV for subtitles to appear on the screen before watching a holiday movie
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York U's fully bilingual Glendon Campus is home to Southern Ontario's Centre of Excellence for French Language and Bilingual Postsecondary Education.
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