Hearing In the Age of Zoom Meetings

You don’t have to like it … but you may have to endure it. Because of  COVID-19, videoconferencing is now a thing.

And if you have any type of hearing issue — whether it requires hearing aids or not — trying to get important work done via Zoom or Skype can be a challenge. And then there’s overseeing a child or grandchild on Google Classroom, which is a whole other level of chore.

There are some things you can control that will make the experience better. And there are a few things you can ask the other participants in a videoconference to do to help you out.

On your end, if there are any Internet-speed issues on the network you’re using, try to solve them. Make sure there’s not a big file being downloaded in the background or anyone else in the house is watching a movie. Herky-jerky streaming certainly won’t help.

Also, make sure you’re away from distractions. Sitting in a dining room with a laptop when someone is in the kitchen — and liable to turn on the blender or start the dishwasher — is asking for trouble.

If you have headphones, use them, as this will help cut down on distractions and heighten audio quality. Likewise, if you have a Bluetooth-enabled hearing aid, then routing the audio straight into it will work wonders.

As far as what others can do, having ground rules so people won’t talk over one another while studiously using their mute button is paramount in making things easier for the hearing impaired (and everyone else too). And doing introductions — allowing time to match faces to voices and to carry out any necessary adjustments to volume settings — is always a good idea.

Given the current circumstances with COVID-19, meeting on the Internet will be with us for the foreseeable future. Might as well make it as pleasant as possible.

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