Traveling to friendly sites for the hearing impaired!

I recently made a short trip to Kentucky with some friends.  We visited three popular tourist destinations; Mammoth Cave National Park, Churchill Downs, and The Louisville Slugger Museum.  I decided I would check out what the venues offered for assistance/accessibility for the hearing impaired.

I did some research on-line about the attractions, determined their operating hours, and rates.  Each of them had information on their website about assistive listening systems for their venue.  They also will provide sign-language interpreters, but need a two week advance notice to schedule.

At Mammoth Cave,  I do not recall any signage at the desk, but I knew from my research I could request an assistive device there.  I did request assistance.  The attendant quickly went and obtained a unit for me to use from a locked storage space.  She tested the device to make sure it was working and instructed me on how to use it.  It was a Sennheiser FM system.  She asked which tour I was on and quickly found the assigned guide to alert him I was on the tour and to give him a transmitter to use.  He came to me personally and let the group know what he was doing and why.  He did not embarrass me or make light of hearing impairment, but presented the information in an affirming manner.  Yes, the FM device worked underground!  The tour was “sold out”.  It was a large group.  I did not have to worry about being near the guide or in the front.

Churchill Downs and the Louisville Slugger Museum also had assistive devices available.  The Slugger museum used an infrared system and closed captioning during their movie presentation.  There were several signs posted throughout the facility to alert visitors about the assistance available.  I really appreciated the signage.  Churchill Downs used a portable system with induction loop technology during the tour.  The guide was very helpful and attentive to the needs of the hearing impaired.

I had good experiences.  Different technology at each venue.  The staff does not have many requests to use this technology, but was very proactive and helpful when engaged. 

If you are traveling with individuals who have a history of chronic ear infections or attention deficit disorder, I would encourage them to check out what is available in public places.  Even if they can hear the presentation without the device, they may find they enjoy and remember more with the assistance.  It definitely makes “listening” easier.

Have you seen signage for hearing assistance in public venues?  Where?  Have you tested their system?  What did you like?  What did you not like?

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