Over the last few months, office work as we know it has changed. While this is a tough adjustment for everyone, those with hearing loss are having a hard time transitioning from in-person to virtual discussions.
Below is a breakdown of the sore spots for those with hearing loss in a digital workplace, as well as some tips to help you modify the situation to work for you.
Challenges of Working Remotely
While an office is never an easy place for someone with hearing loss to be, over time you figure out ways to adapt by learning your coworkers’ voice patterns and stressing the importance of face-to-face interactions. With everything transitioning to digital, there are some roadblocks preventing you for doing your best work.
Technology can (and will) fail. When a video call freezes, the audio will usually keep going. It is easy for those with normal hearing to continue following the speaker’s train of thought through just the audio, while those with hearing loss need time to adjust to the lack of visual cues.
There are often lags in video calls, which leads to multiple people talking at once and accidentally interrupting each other. This makes it hard to focus on a single person’s point, as the conversation can become a garbled mess.
With the popularity of wireless headphones, it is easy for participants on the call to walk away from their computer while still talking. While others can continue to follow their audio without being able to see their face, it is harder for those with hearing loss to do so.
Solutions for Remote Workers with Hearing Loss
Jill Gardner is a learning solutions leader who lives with profound hearing loss and uses hearing aids to navigate the world. She put together a list of tips that those with hearing loss can utilize to help navigate this new digital working environment.
- Use a video conference platform that provides live close captioning. This should be set up ahead of time to make sure the feature is enabled at the start of the call.
- Make a policy that only one person speaks at a time.
- Reach out to those on the call who have not had a chance to participate, as they may be waiting patiently for their chance.
- Assign a meeting facilitator to make sure the participants stay on focused and the meeting stays on track.
- Stress the importance of visual cues and make sure everyone is looking into the camera when speaking.
- Send follow-up emails after the meeting highlighting the important points and decisions discussed on the call.
Nearly 60 percent of people with hearing loss are still in the workforce. Now more than ever it is important for everyone to feel included and heard. To learn more, contact the hearing experts at Valley Audiology today.