Anyone who wears hearing aids will tell you how attached we become to these little pieces of machinery. They enable us to stay connected to other people and to navigate more effectively through this noisy world. Taking them out is usually something we only do by choice (and usually at home) as we can sometimes feel vulnerable when we’re unable to hear properly.
Visiting the spa can be quite challenging as hearing aids don’t mix well with water. Spas involve bathing, showers and quiet, tinkly music – all of which are hard to appreciate when you have to ‘take your ears out’. And, as some-one who also wears specs, taking my glasses off means I can’t lip-read as much as normal either so there’s definitely a communication barrier when it comes to knowing what to do (and not to do).
So imagine the challenge I faced recently when visiting a spa on holiday in Crete recently only to be told it was a naked spa … it didn’t say that on the website! There I was: can’t hear properly, can’t see properly and stood in front of a total stranger clad only in a pair of paper panties the size of a postage stamp … it’s a miracle anyone with hearing loss ever goes to the spa at all!!
I had two choices: run for the hills or dive straight in? Reader, I chose the second one and had a fabulous time. So if you’re feeling nervous about going deaf commando, here are my top 10 tips for visiting the spa with hearing loss:
Do your research at the front desk. Be upfront about your hearing loss and ask what the treatments involve. A good spa will be happy to explain what each treatment includes. It also means you know exactly what will happen and can avoid any sudden tugs-of-war if the therapist tries to remove your towel unexpectedly!
Ask whether you can wear your own undies or swimwear. Most spas won’t object to this. You may also find that ‘when in Rome’ is a good maxim to remember and just go with the flow. In my first experience at a naked spa in Hawaii, I dived straight into the mud bath to hide only to realise that the only person wearing a swimming costume looked ridiculously out of place and embarrassed. We come in all shapes and sizes so relish the freedom and go with it!
Take a waterproof case for your hearing aids (and a case for your specs) so they’ll be safe when you’re in the shower or pool – you can put them in the pocket of your spa robe then wear them again for your massage treatments if needed
Before your spa treatment starts, tell your therapist about your hearing loss and go through what will happen step-by-step so you’re fully prepared
Walk around the spa and find out where everything is – you don’t want to play hunt-the-towel when you come out of the hammam
Check the level of tinkly music with the therapist. You can turn it off for total quiet or adjust the volume so you can hear it. Stopping your massage in the middle to turn the music up/down can definitely ruin the moment
If you’re having a facial or massage where the therapist will touch the sides or your face or head (even during a shoulder or neck massage), quite often the hearing aids may squeal with feedback. The first time this ever happened to me, the therapist jumped a few inches high with the shock! So either take them out beforehand or turn the volume down. I prefer to wear them but with the volume down so I can still hear the music but not frighten the horses
Agree with the therapist about the best way for her to signal if she needs you to do something. For example, she can tap you gently on the hand if she needs you to turn over on the massage bed or to let you know the treatment has finished
What you think is how you feel – if the idea of going deaf and naked makes you feel like Fatty Arbuckle, then you’ll never enjoy it. Just repeat after me: “I’m absolutely fabulous” and you’ll have a great time
Finally, and most importantly, take control of your hearing loss. Manage the situation by gathering information first, be totally upfront about your needs and discuss with your therapist any do’s and don’ts beforehand – it will make the world of difference. The whole point of visiting a spa is to relax and enjoy time out so put in a little effort at the beginning and you’ll soon float away and relax
But in the case of the tiny paper pants however, sorry guys – whoever invented them needs shooting!
One of the things we keep banging on about at Soundz Off is the need for every TV programme, on-demand content, catch-up TV and boxed set to be subtitled for people who are deaf and hard-of-hearing. If the BBC can manage it, why can’t all the other broadcasters?
Action on Hearing Loss are spearheading a campaign to support this view and I’m delighted to be mentioned in a blog produced for SCOPE by AOHL campaigner, Johanna Taylor. The more mentions we can get, the better!
I’m thrilled to see my guest blog is on the Action on Hearing Loss website today!
I’ve been a member of Action on Hearing Loss for years now, including spending a year fund-raising and supporting their activities, and it’s really satisfying being able to play a part in campaigning and raising awareness on hearing loss issues.
I was delighted to be asked to write a response to the recent ATVOD report about the poor levels of subtitling for on-demand services. We all know the technology exists to make this happen – the BBC has 100% of its content fully accessible – so other broadcasters are lagging way behind and they need a sharp poke with a pointy stick to get them to catch up.
Yes, there are technical difficulties, but if the sound went off on normal programmes you wouldn’t be able to hear yourself think as a scream of protest went up around the world from people with normal hearing! Why should we be any different?
Sky is missing a huge financial opportunity here too – there are 7.5m people in the UK who regularly need subtitles but can’t access anything on Sky’s ‘On Demand’ service. It’s so disappointing/frustrating/irritating!!! If Sky got their finger out and provided subtitles just think how many more potential customers they could get!
The new ATVOD report out today shows that 96% of Sky TV’s on-demand services have no subtitles. Well that stinks! No wonder we all get so annoyed when we have to pay full price for our Sky subscription but can’t access most of it online because we can’t hear the dialogue.
And just to show that feeble excuses about ‘technical difficulties’ won’t be accepted – contrast the results against the BBC who have 98% of their on-demand services fully accessible with subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Well done BBC!
One of the most infuriating things about watching TV or on-demand films/content is that so many programmes aren’t subtitled. I was really looking forward to watching “The Vikings” on the History Channel but, guess what, no subtitles! It’s really unfair that the majority of people can watch whatever they like but that hard-of-hearing or deaf/blind people have to put up with being treated like second class citizens. Why should I have to wait for months until the DVD comes out even though I’m still paying the same subscription charges (e.g. Sky) as everyone else? Ooh, it makes my blood boil!
I’ll be saying more about this in my guest blog for Action on Hearing Loss who’ve invited me to write a response to the findings of a report following their “Future of Subtitling Conference” held on 10 November in London in partnership with charities SENSE and UKCOD (UK Council on Deafness).
The Conference challenged broadcasters, service providers, Government, Ofcom and ATVOD (Authority for Television on Demand and co-regulator for Video on Demand services) to ensure subtitling and audio descriptions are provided as standard for hard-of-hearing and deaf/blind viewers so there is accessibility for all.
The findings of the ATVOD report – which is published on 13th December – make serious reading and send a really sharp message to broadcasters telling them it’s way beyond time to start pulling their socks up and to do something about it. Watch out for my blog which will be appearing w/c 16th December on http://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/community/blogs/our-guest-blog.aspx
Wow! Just two of many lovely comments I’ve received since Soundz Off was featured in the 100th issue of ‘Action on Hearing Loss’ magazine which came out yesterday. The site was very positively reviewed by Jean Straus in the “Time In” section on page 36 and described as: “just what the doctor ordered”. Great publicity!
It means a huge amount to me that other people are finding the site useful. One lady (deaf since the age of 2 and knows a huge amount about hearing loss) still founds lots of new information to help her which makes me feel a huge sense of satisfaction. Another lady said that it will be a constant source of reference to help herself and her daughter ….. RESULT!! If my site is already helping people, then it’s doing its job!
Another benefit of the site is that it’s not just helping other people but it’s also hugely helping me. I’m more informed and empowered about the latest news on hearing loss than I’ve ever been before – keeping an eye on news sites every day (looking for titbits and scoops for the Soundz Off Facebook page www.facebook.com/soundzoff) is opening my eyes to the massive amount of work being done by people all over the world. There suddenly seems to be a tsunami of effort, determination and innovation heading our way! Not sure whether this was already there and I hadn’t realised it or that it’s the perfect example of serendipity – whichever, it’s great news either way!
Unfortunately the AOHL magazine isn’t online yet but the review is shown below, page 36. And remember to like and share our Facebook page too – thank you!!