Traveling with your hearing aids.
The summer travel season has begun! This is a good time to review what individuals with hearing loss should know about current TSA screening procedures and tips for traveling with your hearing aids.
Airport screening presents unique challenges for those with hearing loss due to the noise in the environment and the need to understand and comply with directions from the security staff. You should familiarize yourself with the screening procedures in advance of your trip (www.tsa.gov/traveler-information), so you’ll be knowledgeable about the appropriate items of clothing to remove before screening and the proper way to place your carry-on items on the conveyor.
During screening, it is not necessary to remove hearing aids or a cochlear implant before entering the metal detector. Your hearing devices will not be damaged by the screening equipment. Furthermore, removing your hearing aids puts you at a disadvantage when communicating with the security staff. If the officer addresses you, and the message is unclear, be sure to explain that you have a hearing loss. Ask the officer to look at you directly and speak more slowly. Security personnel are trained to assist individuals with hearing loss and should provide an appropriate accommodation, up to and including written directions. You are not required to remove your shoes if you have a disability or certain medical conditions, but shoes must undergo additional screening, including visual/physical inspection and explosives trace detection testing.
The TSA has created a disability notification card (see page two, top left) that travelers can fill out, print and bring with them to the security checkpoint (visit https://www.tsa.gov/sites/default/files/disability_notification_card_508.pdf). The card has a space to enter information about any relevant health conditions or medical devices. While presenting this card does not exempt you from screening, the card enables the bearer to inform TSA staff about a condition quickly and discreetly. In addition, you might want to secure a letter from your doctor that validates your disability.
It’s also important to be prepared for any problems that could disrupt the functioning of your hearing aids during the trip. If I haven’t examined and cleaned your instruments recently, it’s a good idea to schedule a hearing aid check-up before your departure date. Make sure you pack a supply of batteries and a cleaning kit in your carry-on luggage.
We hope these suggestions make your future trips more enjoyable. Happy traveling!