Hands up anyone who’s been left behind after a platform change because they didn’t hear the announcement.
And who has ever got on the wrong train because it appeared at your platform at the right time, and you didn’t hear its destination?
Yes, me too. To both. I’ve almost ended up in Glasgow rather than Manchester. And I’ve missed trains completely in complete ignorance that the platform had changed.
Travelling by train isn’t easy when you’ve got hearing loss. And travelling by train for work adds an extra layer of stress when you’ve got a client or colleagues waiting for you at the other end. I travel by train for work a lot. These are my six simple tips for easy train travel with a hearing loss:
Follow live departures on your phone http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/times_fares/ldb.aspx You can see in an instant whether your train is delayed, and which platform it will be going from.
Don’t be afraid to ask. If you see people dashing from your platform grab someone and ask which train they’re heading for. If you’re worried the train in front of you might not be yours and there are no signs on the doors, pop your head in a carriage and ask a passenger. If you're worried about hearing their response ask a yes or no question, eg "Is this the train to Norwich?" and watch for the nod or shake of the head.
Admit you’ve got hearing loss. If your train has a conductor mention to them that you struggle to hear, and ask them to let you know of any delays or other important announcements. If there’s no conductor introduce yourself to a friendly-looking passenger and ask them to be your ears instead.
Book assistance. If your hearing loss makes you really nervous of travelling by train you can book assistance for your journey. http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations_destinations/disabled_passengers.aspx You can choose what assistance you need, so you can just ask for help boarding your trains.
Set an alarm. Not all trains have displays in the carriage announcing each upcoming stop (and not all of them work). I find it useful to set the alarm on my phone to vibrate 10 minutes before the time I’m due to reach my destination. That way I can concentrate on working and not be hyper-vigilant in case I miss my stop. It also helps if you like a snooze!
Pack a sense of humour. This is almost the most important thing to bring on any journey when you have hearing loss. Frustrating as it may be, we’re going to make mistakes. It makes them more bearable if we can laugh about them.
And finally, if you’re in the UK and wear a hearing aid you’re eligible for a Disabled Persons Railcard which gives you and a companion 33% off rail fares http://www.disabledpersons-railcard.co.uk/
For more ways to thrive at work with a hearing loss follow @thehearingcoach on twitter