Preparing for Fun and… WHAT?

How to Plan An Event for Groups with Hearing Loss

Incredibly_Deaf_Musical

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So how can you handle groups of people with hearing loss and make the event enjoyable? “Hear” is my humble advice:

1. Work out needs and expectations in advance.

Make notes: Tom needs a hearing loop. Jerry needs captioning. Joanne needs to sit in front to lipread.… Spreadsheet, anyone? Then be sure to tell your audience in advance what to expect, both what you will and won’t be able to provide. Everyone will start off more relaxed.

2. Time. Lots of time.

Allow extra time for setup, additional time for fine tuning, and even more time for your audience to get their seats and set up their own tech. You don’t want to be tweaking your setup during the event because everyone in the room will have a different tweak and you’ll fall into chaos. Coordinate carefully so that requirements for one set of needs don’t conflict with another set of needs, like placing a giant speaker in front of the caption screen. Bring a floor plan, equipment list, efficient helpers, and food—you’ll need the energy boost.

3. Empower your audience.
It might get chaotic and difficult, so laughing is better than stressing and screaming.

Tell them you’ll check in often to see if they are following you well enough. Give them some personal control through wireless captions (people love their phones), encouraging them to use personal amplification systems, and have handouts in case tech fails: programs, outlines, printed speeches. The airlines learned this long ago: uncomfortable people feel more comfortable when they have control of their personal space, thus all the buttons for air, light, seats, and video screens. Get your audience ready for takeoff.

4. Laugh. Gotta laugh.

It might get chaotic and difficult, so laughing is better than stressing and screaming. Besides, it’s harder to lipread screaming anyway.

Once everyone acknowledges some words will be missed no matter what you do, your hard-of-hearing audience can better enjoy the event. Remind them you’ve addressed their needs, provided as much support as you can, and given them the ground rules for the communication game.

Now play ball!

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Copyright © 2018 Nancy M. Williams. All Rights Reserved.

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