Technology has significantly changed the way we live and work, particularly through the COVID-19 pandemic. Internet based platforms have not only complimented traditional communications, but have now in some instances, superseded them. By taking some simple steps, people with hearing loss—as well as meeting organizers and colleagues without hearing loss—can optimize the effectiveness of virtual meetings. 

Quick Tips for Running a Meeting when Hearing Loss is a Challenge

  • A stable internet connection is a necessity. 
  • The host should decide who speaks and calls a queue so that everyone knows who is on deck next. 
  • Participants should raise their hands when they wish to speak. 
  • The host should assign someone to monitor the chat box. This will be used if a participant is having difficulties with the audio and/or video. 
  • Record the meeting so participants can review and see if they missed anything. 
  • See if the meeting platform has captioning in the settings options.  If not, remote CART Captioning can be an option. Ask the presenter or meeting organizer. Use a separate web page and a second screen (computer or TV) when possible.  There are many online CART options, here are a few Alberta companies:   

Getting the Most from the Meeting 

Start each meeting with a few minutes of general conversation which gives participants a few minutes to make sure that they can hear and to make any necessary adjustments to their equipment. 

Encourage all participants to utilize the web cam option as the availability of visual cues aids in understanding for anyone with hearing loss. 

Check your lighting. Whenever possible participate from a room with good lighting, and when using a webcam, it is best to have the light source in front of you rather than behind. If the light is projected from behind, it can be difficult for participants to see facial features, hampering the use of visual cues such as speech reading. 

Keep your mouth unobstructed. Try to keep your hands, hair and clothing away from your face when speaking and project your voice. Speak at a moderate pace so that you are easy to understand. 

Additional Tips for Participants with Hearing Loss 

  • Sync up with your hearing aids. Ask your hearing care professional about a connectivity option that allows your hearing aids to connect via Bluetooth to your device. 
  • Advocate and speak up. Good communication is a universal right so speak to your employer and colleagues if you are not able to hear or understand. You may not be the only one struggling. It is important that you don’t miss important information, updates or assignments necessary for your participation during and after the meeting. 

Excerpts from:  

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, published March 30, 2020. 

Deaf/Hard of Hearing Technology Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center 

Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Telecommunications Access – Gallaudet University, 2009-2014