It’s May, which means it’s officially Better Hearing and Speech Month. Each year in May, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) aims to raise awareness about communication disorders. For 2020 the theme is “Communication at Work.”
Hearing loss can present some unique challenges in the workplace. Effective communication requires some effort from both conversation participants. However, many of us are working remotely, and may be doing so for the foreseeable future.
To celebrate this year’s BHSM theme, we’re taking a look at communication in a remote workplace.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is changing many things. The workplace is not immune to these changes.
A recent survey by YouGov highlighted that close to 30% of the workforce in the U.S. workforce are currently working remotely. This shift in working patterns requires certain adaptations to ensure effective workplace communication.
If you or a coworker have a hearing impairment, there are some additional considerations needed.
In recent weeks, video calls have become an essential means of communication for many of us. Video calls can give us the feeling of actually speaking face to face. It’s not really a surprise that many of us are opting for video calls!
If you have a hearing impairment, you know the advantages of video calls. Equally, you’re likely aware of the limitations.
Many workplaces opt for video calls as the preferred way to hold calls / meetings. If your workplace is one, make sure your coworkers understand potential challenges. These include:
Multiple people speaking at once – Multiple speakers can make it difficult to follow the conversation. This goes for people with or without a hearing impairment. Ensure effective communication by avoiding multiple speakers.
Video freezing – We’ve all probably experienced a video freezing at one point in time. For people without a hearing impairment, this isn’t necessarily a problem. As long as the audio feed is uninterrupted, they can continue to listen to the meeting. With a hearing impairment, many rely on the ability to read lips to facilitate communication. Video freezing can make this very challenging.
Not facing the camera – This makes lip reading difficult. It can also make it harder to distinguish what’s being said.
Mute when not speaking – If you’re not speaking, make sure you use the ‘mute’ option on your microphone. You’d be surprised how much background noise can be picked up! It will make it easier for everyone to listen to the speaker.
Effective communication in the workplace is a two way street. It’s important that your coworkers know how to maximize your ability to hear. Equally, there are things you can do too. These include:
Wearing your hearing aids – If you have hearing aid devices, make sure you use them. They can really help improve your communication ability.
Familiarize yourself with the video platforms – Your workplace likely has a preferred video conferencing platform. Zoom, Skype and Google Hangouts are just a few. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the features. Make sure you know where the audio controls are. Do you know how to mute yourself? How about turning the video option on?
Check for communication features – Many video platforms will include automatic video captions. This can help you read along with the conversation.
Have a backup plan – Make sure you have a back-up video platform to fall back on. With more of us online, connectivity issues are more frequent. If you’re having problem with your first video platform, you can use your backup.
Hearing device connectivity features – Does your hearing device have bluetooth capabilities? You may be able to connect your Bluetooth devices to your smartphone or other smart devices.
In these uncertain times, it’s important that you do what you can to protect your hearing health. Protecting your hearing is a great way to help your communication abilities. A few simple, common-sense practices can help you protect your hearing. Click here to learn more.