Backyards are the de facto gathering places for the millions of individuals who host parties in the warm months. We may take advantage of the mild breeze and open up to the outdoors because of the good weather. Statistically, it’s safe to assume that one of the estimated 30 million Americans with hearing loss will be among your guests. It might surprise you to learn that people with hearing loss can be hesitant about attending parties in general, and backyard gatherings even more so!
As a compassionate host, your guests’ experience is paramount. How can you ensure that everyone is enjoying your soiree? Here are some tips for throwing the most ‘hear’-tastic backyard party.
Hearing Loss and its Impact on Socializing
Rather than the overall lowering of volume that you might assume hearing loss delivers to those living with the condition, one of its most profound impacts is in the Inability to understand speech. Hearing loss makes conversation much more difficult, sometimes frustratingly so, and can create associated anxiety about socializing or social events.
Noise- and age-related cell loss in the inner ear is a major contributor to the widespread prevalence of sensorineural hearing loss. Damage to these sensitive cells reduces their numbers, so there are fewer of them available to process environmental noise into auditory cues for the brain. Those affected typically experience a loss of hearing in the higher frequencies initially, including the sounds of spoken consonants, which underlies the particular problem of speech clarity.
The challenges of communicating in a group, especially when doing so outside, are exacerbated for those with hearing loss. When there are more individuals in a space, there is also more background noise, or distracting sounds. Thoughtful lighting and seating space are just a few things to think about while planning an outdoor event with your hearing impaired guests in mind.
How To Amp Up The Fun And Throw A ‘hear’-Tastic Backyard Party
As a thoughtful host, your top priority is likely your guests comfort and experience. Here are some preparations to make before the big day so that your hearing-impaired visitors can relax and enjoy themselves.
Backyard barbecues are more casual affairs, so the seating arrangement is often unplanned and doesn’t automatically take into account ease of conversation beyond pulling up a chair. Put some attention into creating some thoughtful conversation spots for persons with hearing loss instead than letting guests arrange chairs anyway they like.
In these seating arrangements, put chairs face to face so that those who have trouble hearing can utilize non-verbal cues like facial expressions and mouth movements to help them understand what is being said. It’s important to keep these intimate settings away from high-traffic areas like food courts and bars, as well as loudspeakers and live entertainment. Place them near a wall or fence if you can; this will help block out any extra noise.
Lighting is important, too, if your event extends into the evening. A well-lit table is preferable for people with hearing loss, as again, their visuals do supporting work in spoken conversation.
One of the headaches (or fun!) of more formal events might be assigned seating. When renting your tables, choose rounds over rectangles. Guests with hearing loss will appreciate being able to see the faces of those they are conversing with, rather than attempting to understand what someone two spots over on the same side is saying.
Consider scattering some smaller, more personal tables about the room for your folks you know have trouble hearing. You can do this with pre-planned and assigned seating or by gently guiding your loved one to an accommodating spot during the event.
The day of the party, make sure your visitors who have trouble hearing know they are welcome to use your home and a designated spot, like a spare bedroom or office, to take some time for themselves. For some people with hearing loss, conversation can be fatiguing. The brains of those who have hearing loss are actually working overtime trying to discern speech with less sound information than folks with healthy hearing.
Keep an eye on your company at the party because no one knows your guest list better than you do. Keep an eye out for the signs of social isolation or discomfort in your hearing impaired guest. Lend them your support with occasional check-ins, and introduce them to fellow outgoing and empathetic guests, providing some social lubricant.
How Is Your Hearing Health?
Even mild hearing loss can be successfully treated, paving the way for a more enjoyable evening at a summer soiree. Get in touch with our team today to discover your current hearing health and ways we can improve your listening experience.