Making Backyard Parties Hearing-Friendly: Tips for Hosts

Making Backyard Parties Hearing-Friendly: Tips for Hosts

If you’re one of the millions of people entertaining during the summer weather, it’s safe to guess that the backyard is the setting of your shindig. The fair weather allows us to expand outward and enjoy a natural setting, taking advantage of the balmy breeze.  Among your guests will certainly be one of the estimated 30 million Americans living with hearing loss, and the backyard setting might invoke some anxiety around their RSVP. 

How can you make your backyard party more hearing-friendly? Here are some tips for hosts. 

Why Hearing Loss Impacts Conversation

Fundamentally, hearing loss is a condition that impacts communication. One of the earliest signs of hearing loss is trouble understanding speech, an issue experts refer to as speech clarity. 

The hearing loss caused by noise and aging, among the most common types of hearing loss, happens when the inner ear cells are degraded. Their numbers deplete due to harm, leaving a person with less cells to collect noise from around them and turn it into sound information that is sent to the brain. High pitched sounds, like spoken consonant sounds, are usually the first they lose access to.

If all verbal conversation is more effortful for people with hearing loss, group settings and particularly those outside, are exceedingly difficult. More people equals more background noise, or sound that interferes with what people are trying to hear. An outdoor gathering carries additional worries like adequate lighting (to see people’s faces) and expanded personal space. 

Tips For Hosting A Hearing-Friendly Backyard Party

As a consummate and considerate host, the needs and enjoyment of your guests is probably paramount. Here are some ideas to implement in advance of the day of the party, setting your hearing impaired guests up for a good time. 

Informal backyard barbeques often have a more impromptu seating arrangement that doesn’t account for people’s hearing needs. Instead of letting guests arrange chairs willy-nilly, put forethought into some quiet conversation areas for people with hearing loss. 

Place chairs facing one another so that people with hearing loss can use the important context clues of people’s expressions and mouth movements as they work to hear what their conversation partners are saying. Take care to place these cozy arrangements far from noisy music speakers or live bands and away from busy areas like buffets or bar stations. If possible, set them up near a wall or fence, which will further help to eliminate competing background noise. 

For a more formal soiree, like an outdoor wedding, you might be renting tables. Choosing circular tables over rectangular ones will also help your hearing challenged guests see the faces of the people they’re speaking with. Tall centerpieces are dramatic decor, but they can also help to obfuscate the conversation, blocking both the flow of sound and the view. 

For older loved ones with difficulty hearing, think about sprinkling in some smaller, more intimate tables where they’ll experience more ease in conversation. This can be executed with arranged seating or by lovingly directing your relative to the most appropriate setting.

Hosting requires a tremendous amount of planning, but there’s still work to be done during the festivities. At the party, let your guests with hearing loss know that they are welcome in your home during the party. For many people with hearing loss, conversation and small talk can feel exhausting, a phenomenon called listening fatigue. This is because those with hearing loss actually work harder to understand what people are saying versus those with healthy hearing. Giving your guests permission to take a quiet moment to themselves to recuperate is compassionate and welcome.

No one knows your guest list like you do, so keep an eye on your company during your party. Notice when a loved one with hearing loss looks displaced from conversation or socially struggling. Check in when you need to, offering yourself as support, or pair them up with another guest you know is chatty and empathetic and will help them negotiate a sometimes intimidating social landscape. 

Get Curious About Your Hearing Health

Hearing loss is more common than you might think and even small changes in hearing health can forewarn future trouble. Get in touch with our team today and find out about your current hearing health.