It is notoriously difficult for people with hearing loss to communicate in large groups and when background noise is present. And while many are opting to have smaller, more intimate gatherings this holiday season, video calls will now be the preferred method to keep in touch with far-away relatives. This presents a whole new set of challenges for people who are hard of hearing.
Below are some of our tips for how to virtually celebrate the holidays for those living with hearing loss in a socially-distanced world.
Use the Right Tech
While Zoom has been the most popular platform for meeting virtually, it is not the best option for those who are hearing impaired. Google Meet is a superior option for the hearing impaired because it provides free ASR captions on every call. Make sure to use speaker mode so that you will see an enlarged image of the person talking and more easily be able to follow visual cues.
If you’re not in charge of the video platform and your loved ones choose to utilize Zoom, there are still options to make sure you don’t miss a word. Download a live speech-to-text app like Live Transcribe (Android only) or Otter.ai. Set your phone close to the computer speakers, or use an external microphone for extra clarity.
Establish and Follow Guidelines
It’s important that everyone on the video call is on the same page. Set up ground rules so that everyone knows up front that only one person should speak at a time, and that everyone else should mute their mics in order to eliminate background noise. If there is an agenda, be sure to establish this in advance so everyone knows what to expect next, making transitions easier.
Keep Parties Small
The CDC is urging us to limit travel and avoid gathering in large groups. For those with whom who you are celebrating in-person, organize the seating in a way that is conducive to easy communication. If you have hearing loss, sit in the middle of the table so you can hear as many speakers as possible. If your group is visiting with others via video call, make sure you’re seated near the computer speaker with a good view of the screen.
If you have a large call with lots of participants, it might make it easier to host several smaller sessions so everyone gets a chance to visit. This reduces the chances people will talk over each other or that someone will be left out.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call ENT of Georgia today.