video conferencing with a hearing loss

The last few months have certainly been challenging. We are all creatures of habit and we have been forced to jump outside of our comfort zone. We’ve had to find new ways to complete even the most ordinary activities like going to the grocery store or putting gas in the car. Perhaps the most impactful change has been the way we communicate with one another. I have always favored face to face interactions over a telephone conversation. Now phones and computers are what we depend on to keep us connected to the outside world.

Enter into this picture all of the modern video platforms to make communication possible. By now, many of us have utilized at least one of these apps to connect to friends, family members, social groups, work, or healthcare provider. Connecting this way allows us to provide a personal touch without violating the social distance rule of six feet. Navigating video chat rooms can be a tremendous source of stress and anxiety. Even under ideal conditions, video conferencing can be impacted by audio distortion, video lag, or small picture windows, all of which make it difficult to follow a conversation. When we add hearing loss to the mix, communication becomes a greater problem. Imagine the added stress one might face. An employee at their daily work Zoom meeting, praying that their boss doesn’t directly ask them a question. The grandparent straining to hear what their 6-year-old grandchild is telling them about their day in kindergarten, watching with a smile, yet having no idea what was said. Does this sound familiar?

While I don’t have all the answers, here are a few tips to give you the best chance to hear on those Zoom chats. Try using a standard computer rather than your phone. There are more capabilities to enlarge the screen and get better visual cues on your computer. If you do not wear hearing aids, use headphones, and connect them directly to the source. Any time you bring the sound closer to your ears you will have a better chance of catching all the words. If you wear hearing aids, maximize your experience by streaming the sound directly to the hearing aid wirelessly. This can be easily accomplished on today’s Apple or Android devices. Don’t be afraid to ask the other people in the chatroom to look at the camera, not to cover their mouths, and speak towards the microphone. Establish the rules early and you’ll hear them better throughout the conversation.

If you need a more personal consultation regarding your specific situation, don’t be afraid to reach out to your audiologist. We’re always up for new challenges and love helping you stay connected.


Written by
Mark Christian, Au.D.