The holiday season approaches, bringing with it large gatherings and holiday meals. Many of us will be preparing family meals, and the joy of cooking together can be affected by hearing loss. How do you plan a meal together when you or someone in your group has hearing loss, and how do you ensure they're still included?
Below, we share strategies we have found effective for inclusive and joyful cooking when you or someone in your group has hearing loss. We would love to learn your family's tips and tricks for inclusive cooking too, so please share your ideas and experiences in the comments. Together, we can continue learning and improving.
Here are a few tips for cooking together when you have hearing loss:
Plan Extra Time: When cooking with others it’s a good idea to plan for extra time whether or not someone in your group has hearing loss. But when someone has hearing loss, allocating extra time is key for an enjoyable and inclusive experience as communication may require a bit more time.
Communicate Your Needs: It's important to bring awareness to your communication needs in a busy kitchen environment. Remember that your family and friends are not likely to fully understand what you can hear and understand in different environments. Inform them in advance about specific adjustments that would help you:
Share with them what you can, and cannot hear. For example, they may not realize you are not able to hear oven or microwave timers, water running or boiling, or the food processor.
Remind them that you might hear less in a noisy kitchen than usual. Ask them to ensure they are facing you and have your attention before speaking, and not to talk to you from another room.
Well-Lit Kitchen: Ensure the cooking area is well-lit to facilitate lip-reading and non-verbal communication.
Hearing Timer Alarms: Use alternative methods for timer alarms, such as a smartwatch with a flashing or vibrating alarm, or a phone timer. If possible, assign someone who can hear to be in charge of listening to the timers.
Safety Precautions: Remind others not to startle you, especially when you are handling potentially dangerous kitchen tools like knives. It's also important for them to remember to notify you when turning the food processor on and off.
Have fun and enjoy your time together, and please share your tips and tricks for inclusive cooking in the comments below. Happy cooking and happy holidays
Stay tuned for our next guide... how to survive hosting a holiday meal when you have hearing loss.