The prevalence of remote work has increased tremendously over the past couple of years which involves many people having to make adjustments to accommodate this change.
Attending virtual meetings on a regular basis is often required for people that work remotely full-time or in some sort of hybrid position. Virtual meetings can present problems for individuals with hearing loss depending on the platform being used and the behaviour of the attendees.
How to Optimize Virtual Meetings for People with Hearing Loss
There are several steps that can be taken to improve the virtual meeting experience for people with impaired hearing. Actions can be taken by the individual with hearing loss as well as the person running the meeting and all of its participants.
Ensure People are Aware of Hearing Loss
It may be an uncomfortable subject to broach, and many people with hearing loss are hesitant to discuss it or even admit it exists, but divulging this information can be incredibly helpful. The host of the meeting can then take the necessary measures to cater the experience to get the best results.
Get Familiar With the Virtual Meeting Platform
There are a variety of virtual conferencing platforms that are frequently used in the workplace for virtual meetings. Once you know which platform is preferred by your company, you can explore all the features and functions prior to meeting time so you are comfortable with it. Virtual meeting platforms like Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams all offer a free live captioning option that transcribes speech in real-time.
Use the Video Function
If the host is aware of the hearing loss issue, they can encourage all participants in the meeting to turn on their video cameras for improved communication. It should also be suggested that meeting attendees have good lighting and speak directly into the camera.
Not wearing headphones during a virtual meeting can make it difficult to hear over background noise even for people without hearing loss. Wearing quality headphones for virtual meetings provides numerous benefits. It helps reduce background noise, improves speech clarity, and makes it easier to decipher when multiple people are trying to talk at once.
Wear Hearing Aids
People with more pronounced hearing loss may not get the performance they are looking for from regular headphones and could benefit from the assistance of hearing aids. There is a diverse range of options available in hearing styles and features, so consulting with a hearing professional can help ensure you get the best fit for your specific needs.
Helpful Tips for Accommodating Hearing Loss in Virtual Meetings
When everyone is on the same page for virtual conferencing events, it just helps the whole process run more smoothly.
Tips for Meeting Hosts and Managers to Accommodate Hearing Loss
It is estimated that over half of people in Canada between the ages of 40 and 79 are living with some degree of hearing loss. Therefore it is crucial to get the issue out in the open so it can be properly addressed. Virtual meeting hosts can support people with hearing loss by:
- Making time for intros at the start of the meeting to allow people to get acclimatized
- Encouraging participants to turn on their videos and use front-facing lighting
- Encouraging attendees to speak clearly and directly without covering their mouths
- Use screen share to present visual aids
- Request that only one person speaks at a time
Tips for People With Hearing Loss
- Share information about your hearing loss
- Become familiar with the video conferencing platform functionality
- Wear headphones
- Wear hearing aids
- Some hearing aids can synch up directly with the platform with Bluetooth
- Ask for the meeting to be recorded so it can be reviewed afterward if necessary