Information for hearing impaired visitors in Germany
Unique landscapes stretching out between the sea and the Alps, vibrant cities and places perfect for contemplation – this country is a treat for the eyes, ears and palate. Accommodation providers and institutions within Germany are increasingly offering enhanced services for visitors with hearing difficulties.
Accessibility for hearing impaired visitors
Germany has so much to offer – cities and natural splendour, mountains and seas, traditional and modern, regional and international, loud and quiet. Many more services are becoming available for hearing impaired visitors to Germany.
Audio induction loops are widely used in churches, venues and concert halls. These give wearers of hearing aids or cochlear implants a high-quality sound experience without the annoying background noise. Concerts, performances and events are thus made accessible. A sign at the entrance often indicates that there is an audio loop present. Audio loops are also increasingly being used at information counters, for instance at the major Deutsche Bahn travel centres, hotel receptions and museum ticket offices. This puts you on an equal footing when it comes to communication!
The German-developed Greta app enables hearing impaired people to visit the cinema in comfort. The app displays German and foreign-language subtitles for the film being shown on the screen. The app works for selected films at all cinemas.
Guided tours increasingly offer special listening comfort, with trained tour guides and support from audio systems. Taking a tour allows you to experience the cities, culture and natural attractions close at hand, as you come into contact with local experts and learn all sorts of interesting background facts. Come away to Germany, the accessible holiday destination!
Practical information for hearing impaired visitors
We have put together a special section containing practical information for you, so that you know what to expect in Germany before you decide to travel, and can plan your stay and everything you need while here with ease.
This is where you can find the key information for hearing impaired visitors.
People with disabilities and/or their carers are granted free or reduced admission to many places, including museums, theatres, famous sights or parks. Lots of places offer discounts for city tours and public transport. In most cases, you will just need to show proof of disability. German citizens with disabilities have a special pass for this purpose. If you have a similar document issued by the authorities in your country, you’re advised to bring it with you. Do enquire about discounts if they're not specifically mentioned in the list of prices!
If you require specific aids on site or need to get your own aids repaired during your time in Germany, you can contact a German specialist whenever the need arises. People with impaired hearing should contact a hearing care professional if they have any questions about hearing devices or the like. Specialists tend to be based in the bigger cities and can be contacted during regular office hours.
Please note the following in order to use your electronic devices correctly. In Germany, the mains voltage is 220 V. Type F sockets (grounding-type plugs) are standard. Type C (Euro plug) is commonly used for devices with protective insulation and low power consumption. Hotel bathrooms usually have shaver sockets that can also take British and US plugs. Please bring any extension cables, adapters or power supply units with you.
Inductive audio loops are installed in many events venues and at information counters around Germany. Audio loops transmit sound, background noises and spoken words to hearing devises and cochlear implants. To use audio loops, switch your receiver to the T-coil. In events venues, you may need to go to a specific area or sit in specific seats for optimal reception. Please check this with the operator.
The hearing systems used by tour guides often work without their own receiving device, such as hearing aids or cochlear implants. Those on the tour are given their own device for receiving sound, so that they hear a louder version of everything that the tour guide says into their little microphone. It’s best to find out about the technology used in advance.
Deutsche Bahn has put together some information specifically for deaf or hearing impaired passengers.
For more information, see Getting there and around accessibly.
Hearing impaired people in Germany
According to the official figures, there are around 250,000 hearing impaired people in Germany. These figures are based on the number of people who have applied for a severe disabilities pass. When applying, they are required to state the type and degree of disability. However, there is estimated to be a far higher number of unreported cases, not least because far from everyone who would be eligible for the pass actually applies, and because the pass only records the disability with the greatest degree of severity – and among older people, that’s often not a hearing impairment. Overall, almost 8 million German citizens hold a severe disabilities pass. This equates to around 10% of the German population.
Due to the ageing population and the increase in hearing loss in old age, almost every German will come into contact with hearing impaired people in their private lives. That said, people are often uncertain about how to deal with those with hearing loss. The tourism industry is gradually paying greater attention to the challenges faced by hearing impaired visitors and responding to their needs by providing targeted training for employees and making technical aids available.
Of course, this development is also the result of the tireless work of associations geared towards those affected, and support groups within Germany such as the German Association for the Hearing Impaired (Deutsches Schwerhörigenbund e.V., DSB).
As hearing loss isn’t apparent at first glance, it’s vital to be upfront about your needs. That way, people will be understanding from the outset and you’ll enjoy top-listening comfort on your holiday in Germany.