Photo credit: Justin Doub licensed under CC BY 2.0

by Jan L. Mayes, MSc, Audiologist

The North Carolina State Fair will be more inclusive this year by offering an accessABILITY Day during the 10-day event. The goal is to limit sensory overload so that more people can attend the fair. This could include people with hearing loss, tinnitus, and hyperacusis who avoid state fairs because of the loud music and noise.

During the morning of October 17, 2021, rides, games, and vendors will run without music or lights, music stages will play acoustic music, and the public address system will only announce lost visitors. During the day, one building will feature a chill out zone with seating, low lighting, soft music, and noise-cancelling headphones for checkout.

I wish the fair was quieter for a full day for better accessibility. Hopefully the music can be turned off in the chill out zone if it’s uncomfortable for anyone. And it would be great if music stages also considered playing no or low percussion acoustic music with limited to no drums, like a Radical Face concert I went to before the pandemic.

An important option to improve stage show accessibility includes installation of bluetooth, infrared, or hearing loop broadcast technology so people can hear better using their hearing aids or assistive listening devices.

I hope the North Carolina State Fair accessABILITY Day is a great success and that it inspires other fairs to implement accessibility days so more people can enjoy them. Perhaps one day, every day of a fair will be more accessible.

Jan L. Mayes is an international Eric Hoffer Award winning author in Non-Fiction Health. She is also a science enthusiast and newly retired audiologist still specializing in noise, tinnitus-hyperacusis, and hearing health. You can read more of Jan’s work at her site, www.janlmayes.com.