At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, work-from-home or shelter-in-place orders required communities all over the world to adapt how we communicate and stay informed. As a result, video conferencing tools like FaceTime, Zoom and Skype have been widely adopted to connect with friends and family, attend work meetings and even go to school. Now as we’ve moved into the recovery stages of this global pandemic, virtual meetings and events are becoming the norm, and are likely to continue being used in the near future.
For those who are hearing impaired, these virtual meetings have presented a new set of challenges. With video conferencing tools, technical difficulties are expected to happen. Frozen screens and crashes can be navigated in audio-only mode for the hearing capable, but not for those with hearing loss. The situation can be made even worse when people on the call talk over each other. In addition, those who rely on lip reading or visual cues to help aide in conversation may find this new form of communication challenging.
Building an inclusive environment for virtual communication
- If you are hearing impaired, be sure to inform the people on the video conference that you are experiencing challenges and let them know what they can do to communicate more effectively with you. Being open and honest about the challenges you’re experiencing and informing them of your needs can help make for a smoother video conference overall.
- Try to utilize other communication tools. With more phone and video conversations, and the increased use of face masks, those with hearing loss are finding communication challenging. Pen and paper or whiteboards can be a good option to aid in conversations.
- Utilize close-captioning apps such as Live Transcribe, Otter Voice Meeting Notes, Speech Notes, Voice Notebook and e-Dictate (available on Apple or Android platforms).
- Consider amplified telephones and analog captioned phones.
- Provide written follow up when appropriate.
Technology like video conferencing has allowed us to remain connected through these difficult times. We’ll continue to embrace these forms of communication as we recover from this pandemic.
We realize now more than ever how important communication and our ability to hear really is. Prioritize your hearing health by contacting a hearing professional today – click here!