Accessible traveling during the holidays

New York has become the No. 1 travel destination for tourists as the winter holidays approach. It consistently ranks as the most-booked domestic destination for U.S. and international travelers between Thanksgiving and New Year (Bloomberg.com). New York airports and travel ports are bustling around this time of year.

Travelers with hearing loss can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that more and more travel ports in the New York City area are becoming accessible to hearing aid wearers. In March of 2021, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) issued revised accessibility requirements, including requirements for hearing loops in new or significantly updated airports, bus, rail, and ferry facilities that PANYNJ operates.

Specifically, these revisions require that each individual departure gate in an airport is looped so that all audible announcements will be transmitted to passengers at that gate only. These loops must comply with IEC-60118-4. Those who wear hearing aids with a T-coil can access the loops.

Travelers with hearing loss know just how difficult it can be to navigate a busy airport with so much commotion and background noise. By installing loops at each gate, speech comprehension can be increased from zero percent or 10 percent to as much as 90 percent. This technology can eliminate the need for other types of accommodation, such as attendants having to alert passengers individually of flight delays, gate changes, or other important information.

The revised PANYNJ requirements also mandate that airports and other travel terminals provide signage to let travelers know there is a hearing loop available for their use.

It’s amazing to see more and more traveling facilities “get in the loop”. It might not be visible to everyone else, but traveling with hearing loss can be a miserable experience if not properly accommodated, especially during the busy holiday season. The updated revisions from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are just the start to accessible and inclusive travel everywhere here in the U.S.

For more information on PANYNJ requirements and traveling ports “getting in the loop”, check out this article: http://www.sofnabq.com/SandC_PANYNJ.pdf



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