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It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a new way of life that affects all of us. Most states around the US have issued stay-at-home orders, allowing you to venture out for only a few specific reasons. Because of this, you may now find yourself working at home (or attending classes at home, if you are a student) and trying to remain connected with loved ones virtually.
While working from home has its benefits (like no commute and all-day access to the kitchen), it certainly has its drawbacks, too. This is especially true for those with hearing loss, who now find themselves trying to navigate video conferencing and other work-from-home challenges.
If you have hearing loss, however, don’t despair! You can successfully work from home. All it takes is a few tips to make things a bit easier:
- Advocate for yourself.
Be sure to let your team members know that you have hearing loss. If you are struggling to hear or understand during a video call, be sure to make them aware. Give tips for what they can do to make it easier for you to effectively understand and participate.
- Try out different communication techniques.
If one certain type of communication is especially challenging, don’t be afraid to suggest an alternative. Experiment with video conferencing, phone calls, text chats, and more. Even using a pen and paper or a whiteboard can be helpful!
- Use headphones with a microphone and noise-canceling technology.
If you and everyone on your team use a headset with a microphone, the sound quality will be better and clearer for all involved. This can make it easier for those with hearing loss to understand the conversation. Be sure anyone who is not speaking mutes their microphone to reduce background noise.
Using headphones with noise-canceling technology can also help you better understand the conversation at hand by cutting out background noise.
- Make the most of video technology.
Many people with hearing loss rely on visual cues for context. Because of this, be sure to use video capabilities during work or class conversations. It’s also important to use good lighting (light from the front, not from behind), to not cover your mouth, and to speak clearly. Do not let team members speak over one another, as this is garbled speech is almost impossible to understand if you have hearing loss.
Many video conferencing programs also offer live captioning. This can be a great asset to those with hearing loss, so be sure the captioning is turned on.
- Record video conferences for later reference and provide written follow-up.
Be sure to record any video meetings and allow your team to access them following the meeting. Those with hearing loss may find it helpful to rewatch any sections they had difficulty understanding. During the video call, be sure to screen share when you are discussing any relevant documents or programs.
You can also provide clear, written follow-up to your video or voice calls. This can be helpful to reiterate important points and clarify assignments.
- Use Bluetooth technology.
Some hearing aids come with Bluetooth technology that allows them to directly connect with devices like computers, tablets, and smartphones. If your hearing aids are equipped with this technology, you may be able to directly connect your hearing device to your video conferencing app.
Now, the benefits of video conferencing aren’t confined to work and school only. Telehealth appointments also allow you to meet with medical providers—like your hearing healthcare professional—from home as well! These virtual appointments can be an easy, effective way to connect with your hearing professional, ask questions, and receive the care you need.
If you would like to learn more about how to successfully navigate video conferencing with hearing loss, we welcome you to contact our hearing practice today. We are eager to assist you!