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Virtual communication has become one of the fundamental ways we spend time with others in recent months. Although this technology has been much needed during the pandemic, this kind of communication can present unique challenges for people with hearing loss.
Ensuring that everybody can participate in virtual discussions is extremely important. To provide more open and efficient communication this holiday season, here are some ideas on how to best prepare for your virtual family reunion.
Like all meetings, it is necessary to define and communicate the event’s details: time, type of platform, who will participate, and any activities for which your family members should be prepared.
Sharing this information will avoid uncertainty and let people know what they can expect, which can help to reduce any anxiety that your family members may experience.
Have a rehearsal
Not all of your family members will be in tune with the finer details of video chatting, so it would be best if you took an opportunity to have a tutorial with them before meeting for your family reunion.
You can help them set up adequate lighting, consistent audio delivery, and check their microphone.
Run through the platform, describing the various features and settings and how they are best used. Practice connecting to the platform via links, downloading the app, and maybe even helping them set up a fun background!
Make the reunion accessible to all
It is essential to ensure that the virtual space is open and inviting if you have family members experiencing hearing loss, speech or language disabilities, or other conditions that affect communication.
To establish an open environment, there are a few modifications you can make:
- Use Video: Reminding everyone to use the video feature is crucial. They should appear on the screen, especially when they are talking. Seeing them will help those with hearing loss better follow what they are saying. It allows them to lipread and read nonverbal signs such as body language more easily.
- Lighting: Good lighting helps visibility and makes images on the screen look clearer. An efficient way to do this is to provide lighting in front of you instead of behind you, allowing you to be visible on the screen.
- Mute Button: Background noise is a common issue during group video chats. Even the most innocuous sounds can be overwhelming if multiplied by the number of people in the call. You want to stop people from speaking at the same time during your virtual reunion. This can be very distracting and make the conversation more difficult to understand and follow. Instructing everyone to use the mute button while they are not speaking is a smart way to cut down on noise.
Communicating these tips to others is crucial so that everyone can enjoy a relaxed atmosphere. These tips can be exercised beforehand in a test run and included in your plan!
Don’t forget your family traditions
With all the uncertainty and stress we have experienced this year, anything that reminds us of old times is no doubt welcome. That’s why you should continue your family traditions, if only virtually.
For starters, if you do a White Elephant or Secret Santa gift exchange each year, there are ways to continue this tradition online. If your family loves board games, check online to see if there is a virtual edition. Several game developers have produced virtual versions of their most popular games to help us through this period.
Virtual gatherings: a necessary solution
It may not be ideal to meet virtually this holiday season, but it is practical, considering the risks associated with an in-person visit. If you or someone else you know has hearing loss, visit us at Kenwood Hearing Centers to learn how hearing aids can help during online video conversations.