Hearing Loss and COVID-Distanced Holidays
Virtual technology for communication access
People with hearing challenges tend to dread the Holiday Season, the peak socializing time of the year. It is a frustrating and even depressing time when many feel excluded from conversations and activities as they struggle to hear and understand in noisy places.
However, new ways of communicating might actually make the Holidays more inclusive for those with hearing loss in spite of being physically distanced during the COVID epidemic.
Platforms like Zoom, Skype and FaceTime for example, can bridge the communication gap. They facilitate the much-coveted one-on-one conversations that people with hearing loss crave. Personally, I like the virtual meeting format because I have quite a bit of control over sound quality and volume on my end.
A different Holiday Love
This year, Love is to keep in touch while not exposing anyone unnecessarily to the Coronavirus. This is an aggressive, nasty virus that has many lasting effects – which can include hearing loss – even for those who “recovered” from it. We stay apart so that next year we can all celebrate together again. Considering the circumstances, this short-term sacrifice is well worth it.
As families plan their cyber reunions, it is important to think about the needs of those with hearing loss so that they too can enjoy active participation.
Before going “virtual”
Help your loved ones download the appropriate apps for their computers or phones. Explain the procedure for joining in on calls. How will they access conversations? Bluetooth streaming to hearing aids? Headphones? Neckloops? Does the app offer closed captions?
Follow the rules
In order to get the best results from virtual chats, the same rules that apply to in-person communication also translate into the virtual world.
· Minimize background sounds: No loud music, clanking dishes or barking dogs.
· Have people sit down and keep the visual background free from distractions. This makes it so much easier to focus on the conversation and to lip-or speechread
· Let the person with hearing loss know when the conversation spotlight is on her/him
· Take turns. Only one person speaks at a time.
· Mute those who are not involved in the one-on-one conversation.
· Do not interrupt the person with hearing loss or the person who is speaking to him or her.
· Face the camera when speaking. Speak distinctly, which in itself slows down the pace.
· Raise your hand if you want to get into the conversation. That way the person with hearing loss can switch the focus on the new conversation partner.
And so, give the gift of communication and inclusion without the risk of COVID infection. In that spirit, here’s to Wishing Happy and Healthy Holidays to all!
Forever devoted to healthy hearing – that most precious sense.
Join me online!
For Industry Hearing Safety Training or for general presentations on Hearing Loss Prevention, please see my website where I also post blogs on all sorts of issues related to hearing loss: http://www.hearing-loss-talk.com
Or email [email protected]