At least half of the problems people run into while traveling are a result of some sort of miscommunication. You know the scenarios: “Room requests are noted, does not mean they are guaranteed;” “Sorry, we assumed you knew, the hourly shuttle service doesn’t begin until noon;” or “Yugos are considered a mid-size at our rental company.” We’ve all faced these frustrating situations where we thought everything was clearly understood but turns out not to be. So, imagine how much more difficult travel can be for those who have “built-in” communication hurdles due to a hearing impairment.

As with any other disability, successful travel depends greatly on advance planning. However, for those in the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities, the method and focus of their preparation is necessarily different. Here are some pointers that may make traveling with a hearing disability a little easier.

The first thing to remember is that, in many cases, hearing impairment is an invisible disability, meaning that the people around you are likely unaware that you are disabled. It is important, at every step of your travels, to let key personnel know about your hearing impairment so that proper arrangements can be made.

Starting with ticketing and reservations, be sure to inform whomever you are dealing with, be it a travel agent, airline, or hotel representative, about your hearing disability. If possible, plans should be arranged in person. This allows for the opportunity of speech reading if needed, plus putting a face to a name often results in more conscientious service. If, however, you must make your reservations remotely, many hotel chains and airlines do have TDD service. Request a written confirmation of all reservations, preferably by fax, so that you can check their accuracy as quickly as possible.

Hotel selection depends on many factors from price to location to pool size. However, one critical factor is accessibility. Under the ADA, hotel accessibility goes well beyond wheelchair ramps and bathroom grab bars. Lodging establishments, depending on size, are supposed to have a number of visual alert devices to help hearing-impaired travelers recognize the ring of telephones, alarm clocks, a knock on the door, or a fire alarm, in addition to in-room TDD units and closed-caption televisions. Be sure to get confirmation in writing about the availability of these devices when making your reservations!

If, for some reason, you must stay at a hotel which does not have these accommodations, there are portable visual alert systems available for purchase from medical supply stores. These devices flash a light when the phone rings, a fire alarm sounds, or can vibrate a pillow when an alarm clock goes off.

On the day of your journey, make sure you arrive at the airport, train, or bus station early. At the boarding gate make the agents aware that you may not hear the boarding announcement and that you would like them to contact you when it’s time to board. Make certain you confirm the flight number and destination before boarding, as many times gate changes are announced only audibly.

Once aboard, tell the flight attendant, conductor, or driver that you are hearing impaired and request that any en-route announcements be communicated to you in person.

If you need ground transportation at your destination city, it is a good idea to have the name and address of your hotel written down so that there is no miscommunication between you and your driver.

At the hotel, it is a good idea to inform the desk clerk that you’re hearing impaired, just in case an emergency arises. With your copy of the written confirmation in hand, go over your reservation to make sure you are getting what was agreed upon.Similar pre-arrangements should be made for any activities you plan on participating in during your trip. Often, with advance notice, museums, theaters, sports arenas, amusement parks and many other facilities will provide sign language interpreters, assistive listening devices, printed guides, special seating and more if you request it.

Even if you follow this advice and plan to the last detail, from time to time, you’ll probably still end up getting that “room with a view” of the parking lot, or the make your own bubbles jacuzzi-tub. Miscommunication and travel go hand in hand, but at least you won’t touch down in Haiti when your hotel is over on a beach in Tahiti.