Now that the world has gone almost fully digital, you’ve probably found yourself dealing with video conferencing a lot more than in the past. One of the big downsides to working from home is the oft-mocked remote meeting: Whether you use Zoom, Google, Skype, or something else, remote meetings can be difficult. We know having hearing loss makes a video call even more challenging, so we’ve put together some accessibility tips for you to take advantage of on your next call!
Cameras on, everybody!
Request that everyone turn their cameras on for their meeting (if you feel comfortable to do so with your coworkers). Seeing body language can help the flow of a meeting immensely, for people with or without hearing loss. The constant talking-over-your-coworkers issue can be remedied if everyone is watching each other and can see when the next person is getting ready to speak. If you read lips, this can also be helpful.
Use those apps
There are many accessibility apps that can make remote meetings and video calls a little easier. Here are some of our favorites:
- Krisp: This app mutes background noises—both from your end and from your coworkers end! This can be super helpful if a coworker has a lot of noise in the background and you’re struggling to hear them speak.
- VITAC: This is a live closed-captioning service provided by professional captioners, not a computer. The service is not free but check with your company—they may pay for part or all of it for you.
- Live Caption: This is a free app (or you can pay $2.99/month for the premium version) that captions phone calls in real time. Most video calling services like Zoom have a call-in option where you can use your cell phone to dial in. That paired with an app like Live Caption should help you keep up with the conversation of the meeting!
Have a plan
A challenging part of remote meetings are keeping everyone focused and on track. Off-topic conversations can be especially unhelpful if you have hearing loss and are struggling to follow along with the meeting. If you are the host of the meeting, make sure to have an agenda to outline the goals of the meeting and to ensure you say everything you need to. You can send this agenda out to the group which can help the meeting go more quickly and smoothly.
At the close of each remote meeting, whether you are the host or a participant, try to clarify “action items.” Action items are the next steps everyone needs to take for the project—whether that’s following up with a client, redesigning a slide deck, or submitting a report. Clearly stating the action items (and following up with an email to the group) is a good way to ensure you know what you’re doing next, even if following every word of the meeting was difficult.
Remote work doesn’t have to be difficult or challenging, even with hearing loss. There are ways to make your life and your job easier during these tough times. Hopefully one or more of these tips can help!