Brad Ingrao on Hearing Loss and the Holidays

National HLAA held another webinar last Wednesday night featuring Brad Ingrao. This is the bio posted on the website: “Brad is an audiologist, Tweeter, freelance technical illustrator, writer, lecturer and technology geek. He has been a long time friend of HLAA and has logged many hundreds of hours on professional and consumer listservs related to hearing loss over the last 15 years.

Dr. Ingrao is a consultant for the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Hearing Enhancement at Gallaudet University. This grant funded program supports Dr. Ingrao’s regular column in Hearing Loss Magazine.”

His topic was focused on how to improve the holidays gathering with hearing loss.

People with hearing loss, Brad said, are shortchanged when it comes to the holidays. We often travel for holidays which leaves everyone tired, hearing loss or not. When we get there, we too want to catch up with all the people we don’t normally get to see, cramming in conversations over a short period of time. With the background noise, people talking over one another and music, we tire out faster perhaps becoming agitated. Plus, being out of our environment means we lose control. We can’t control schedules, music/TV settings, rooms/acoustics or arrange for people to talk one at a time. It’s a downward spiral from there.

Many people still hide their hearing loss, afraid of being ‘outed’ as hard of hearing. How do we do we cope? We can either come out as hard of hearing or we can continue to bluff. We can become the constant talker so we don’t have to listen to others. Brad says the payoff is 100 times greater to say, “I need this to hear.” They are our family and they want us to hear them and they will, hopefully, help us. So how can we improve the situation?

  • Be honest – Accept your hearing loss and avoid bluffing. Find a way to be at peace with your hearing loss. Disclose your hearing loss and know what helps you hear better.
  • Educate – Educate yourself and your loved ones about your type of hearing loss.
  • Be Prepared – Get a hearing aid tune up before you go. Have a professional cleaning done. Get a ‘speech-in-noise test done. Set your directional microphones in your hearing aids. Have lots of batteries with you and insert fresh ones just before that important event so you’re not stuck in changing batteries in the middle of it. Use a humidifier.
  • Take Control – Make an itinerary. Plan ahead. Arrive early. Identify a rest spot. Pick your best listening spot. Be proactive.
  • Conserve Energy – Rest. Take hearing breaks. Cut your losses and move on when needed because sometimes it’s just too difficult.
  • Give Feedback – Acknowledge the effort of others. Suggest ways to make things better next time. Offer support to others who have hearing loss too.

Next, Brad went over three typical holiday scenes. First he pulled up a picture of a holiday dinner table seating 8 people. One end featured huge windows and he suggested staying away from those because of the reverberation. Also stay away from the ends of the table. Pick seats in the middle of the table that way you can catch what’s being said on either side. The reality is you won’t hear it all but in this position you have a better chance to hear more.

Next he pulled up a cocktail party scene. To talk to someone in this kind of event, get away from the main crowd and find a corner. Try to find something sound absorbing such as curtains, a rug and/or big puffy chairs.

At a place of worship, go early and sit upfront or call ahead and ask to reserve a seat upfront. Ask if they have ALDs or take your own. He briefly covered ALDs and which ones he liked before closing for a question and answer session.

Merry Christmas everyone and I hope these tips help you with your holidays.

merry christmas

HLAA holds monthly webinars. The webinars are captioned, show the person presenting and their power point presentations as well. They are free. For a schedule of topics and information on how to sign in, go here: