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Hearing Impaired Fliers – How Can Airlines Help?

What would you do if you couldn’t hear all the announcements during a flight?

On a recent flight, I wound up sitting next to a passenger who was on the quiet side. It only took me a few moments to figure out she was hearing-impaired. I can’t tell to what degree. All I knew: She didn’t respond to announcements – from the “no electronics” announcement to beverage service.

I’m pretty sure the crew had to realize the passenger was hearing impaired. I can’t say they went out of their way to help her or keep her aware of what’s up; they didn’t even say anything to her about keeping her eReader on during the last bit of the descent. Of course, I chalked that up as evidence that consumer electronics have no affect on the airplane’s instrumentation (the FAA is even seeking comment on the topic of consumer electronics). The crew was very nice overall, but they seemed to overcompensate in not treating a hearing-impaired passenger different from anyone else. Her window seat probably made the situation a bit more difficult, too.

The situation made me wonder – how should airline cabin crews deal with hearing-impaired passengers? Do any of you know about their policies? If you’re hearing-impaired, how would you prefer to get information from the cabin crew? I know that I’d be willing to help out a fellow passenger in that situation.

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