To help you—and to help inform coworkers who don't have hearing loss
—the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has put together an infographic:
"If you're new to working virtually, you may not think about things like setting your microphone to mute when you're not speaking, but tips like these are really helpful," said Mandy Mroz, AuD, president of Healthy Hearing. "My number one tip to help remote workers with hearing loss is to make sure everyone on the team has a headset with a microphone. This improves the sound quality for all listeners.”
How to make virtual meetings easier to hear (American Speech-Language Hearing Association)
- Introduce everyone, if you can. This gives people with hearing loss time to adjust their sound and get oriented.
- Use video. "The availability of visual cues for people with hearing loss, and even those without hearing loss, aids in understanding conversation," states ASHA's tipsheet.
- Check lighting. During video, it is best to have lighting in front of you rather than behind you. Back lighting can make it hard for others to see your face.
- Wear a headset with a microphone. "This produces a better quality signal for all listeners," Mroz said. "The downside? They cost more, but we find they're worth the investment."
- Don't block your mouth. Keep hands, hair and clothing away from your mouth and face. Project when speaking so that listeners have the best opportunity to hear and understand.
- Use the mute button when not speaking. This reduces unwanted background noise.
- Wait your turn to speak. "Don’t interrupt others, as it is harder to shift listening from one speaker to the next in a virtual meeting," ASHA points out.
- Record your meeting. This is useful for people who missed either portions or all of the call. For people with hearing loss, they can review it later at a slower pace, if needed.
Virtual meetings when you have hearing loss
- Sync hearing aids. "If you wear hearing aids, ask your audiologist if there is a connectivity option that will allow your hearing aids to connect via Bluetooth directly to the device you use for virtual meetings," ASHA states.
- Try noise-canceling headphones. These can reduce unwanted background noise and make it easier to hear the speaker.
- Lastly, advocate for yourself. "Good communication is a universal right for all. Be sure to talk to your employer and advocate for yourself if you are not able to hear or understand. If you are struggling to hear, there may be others who are struggling, as well. You don’t want to miss important assignments, information, updates, or knowledge necessary for your participation during and after the meeting," ASHA explains.