This year, Thanksgiving and the winter holidays will be like none before. With the COVID-19 pandemic still a prominent part of everyday American life, many holiday celebrations will take place not in person as usual, but over videoconference. While this can be sad for the average person, it can be actively challenging for people with hearing loss.
For starters, device speakers usually distort sound and speech, making videoconferencing conversations harder to follow for people with hearing loss. Then there are the inevitable audio and video transmission lags – needless to say, a safe family gathering can come at the cost of accessibility. However, if you have hearing loss, you can more easily enjoy your holiday videoconference celebrations by following the below six tips.
1. Ask videoconference participants to speak differently
Since videoconference sessions can make it difficult to properly hear and follow conversations, ask your friends and family to speak slowly, enunciate clearly, and introduce the topic to be discussed before the conversation begins. For example, if your cousin is telling you about their new baby, have them slowly and clearly say, “I’m telling everyone about my baby now” before actually doing so. With this background information and slow, clear speech, you’ll have an easier time deciphering words and filling in blanks.
2. Sit near your WiFi router
Audiovisual disruptions that make it harder to understand videoconferencing conversations, such as lagging video or audio, may occur less frequently if you sit near your WiFi router. The closer you are to your router, the more stable your device’s connection to your video call. This stability means fewer instances of slowed, distorted speech, plus clearer visuals for easier lip reading.
3. Louder isn’t always better
If you’re struggling to hear the people speaking on your videoconference, you might be tempted to raise your device’s volume. This is often a mistake. Increasing the volume can further distort speech, so instead of loud, clear audio, you might get loud, distorted audio – and that will only prove worse for your hearing.
4. Use your hearing aid’s Bluetooth connectivity
If your hearing aid has Bluetooth® capabilities, you can connect it directly to smartphones, laptops, and other devices. With this connection, you’ll have your videoconference’s audio transmitted directly into your ear, increasing the chances that you’ll hear everything clearly. And it’s not just about your hearing aid: Your video device likely includes accessibility features that can help improve your comprehension as well.
5. If you don’t have Bluetooth, optimize your location
Not all hearing aids are equipped with Bluetooth. If that’s the case for your hearing aids, choosing an appropriate room for your call – and a proper location within that room – can make hearing easier. Choose a quiet room lacking background noise like a TV or a fan, and make space for yourself in a corner to improve your acoustics. Since walls and ceilings guide sound waves to corners, you may hear better seated in your room’s corner than in its center or along an edge.
6. Prepare your hearing aids and software
Both your videoconferencing device and, if Bluetooth-equipped, your hearing aid may need software updates. Check whether this is the case a few days before your call, and update your devices as needed. You can seek assistance from a professional if you have questions.
You can also get professional assistance with another two important pre-videoconferencing tasks for your hearing aids: cleaning and adjusting. Check whether your hearing aids are in warranty, and then contact your audiologist or hearing aid specialist – such as us here at I Love Hearing – to book an appointment.
Prepare for your holiday videoconferences with I Love Hearing
Even if your hearing aids are NOT in warranty, you can make an appointment with I Love Hearing to update your device software and clean and adjust your hearing aids – and that’s not all. We can also set your hearing aids to better equip you to understand speech impeded by a mask, and we’re offering risk-free take home trials on new hearing aids as well.
If you’re interested in starting your trial before your holiday videoconferences, visit I Love Hearing for an initial appointment, fitting, and tuning. Try your new hearing aids in different situations, and then, after your trial run, return to our offices to tell us how your trial went and make additional adjustments. Book your appointment now at the I Love Hearing location most convenient for you – whether East Meadow, New Hyde Park, Port Washington, or Manhattan’s Upper East Side – to ensure a crystal-clear, memorable holiday season.