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Social distancing and coronavirus restrictions mean that our relationships with each other are being moved online for the time being. As we enter the holiday season, you may be considering holding a Virtual Family Reunion to reconnect with family members in other households instead of in-person gatherings. Video call technology and the internet were not available to those enduring the last pandemic. So why not use this technology to your advantage this holiday season?
Nevertheless, there are always possible communication problems you face when organizing virtual meetings that involve video calls, particularly if someone in your family has a hearing loss.
Zoom and Hearing loss
Zoom fatigue is a state of fatigue associated with straining to understand others during video chats. This annoyance is similar to those with hearing loss when in face-to-face conversations, whether it is lipreading or interpreting the body language and facial expressions of those they are speaking to.
Others the issue of choppy audio, time delays, or pixelated footage. In almost every environment, the hard of hearing community faces this challenge, like they’re piecing together an audio jigsaw puzzle.
Missing only a few words can have a snowball effect on how well you perform socially in front of your extended family, reducing the enjoyment you get from the virtual reunion.
Create a Game Plan for Your Virtual Reunion
Virtual meetings are not intended to replace conventional ones, so they should be approached from an entirely different standpoint.
Here are some ways you can have a more accessible and enjoyable virtual family gathering this holiday season.
Although it is no doubt to finally see your nephew on the screen after so many years, successful family reunions require structured entertainment. Consider online word games, karaoke, or even interesting ice-breaker questions that everyone answers one by one.
Set conversation rules
A simulated event can turn into a cacophony because of the number of people trying to speak, crowd noise, and more. And while your family could be used to that in person, something makes it a little more jarring about the smaller screens.
Consider setting specific ground rules or appointing a host (like silencing yourself unless you’re talking). If things start getting rowdy, you or someone else can serve as a dialogue facilitator who can step in or mute the other attendees.
Tips for those suffering from hearing loss
If you have hearing loss, you know that video calls pose an extra challenge. Here’s how to best navigate the issues faced:
- Use your laptop. There are more capabilities on your computer to enlarge the screen and get better visual cues.
- Use noise-canceling headphones if you are not wearing hearing aids, and connect them directly to your laptop. You will have a better chance of hearing all the words by getting the sound closer to your ears.
- Use Bluetooth on your hearing aids. Optimize your experience if you are wearing hearing aids by transmitting the sound wirelessly to your hearing aid. This can be quickly done on today’s Apple or Android devices if you have a Bluetooth-enabled range of hearing aids.
- Ask for help: Don’t be afraid to ask the other people in the chatroom not to cover their mouths and talk to the microphone, but to look at the camera. Set the rules early, and during the discussion, you will be able to hear them better.
Suggestions for all during the session
- Make sure there is decent lighting. Visual lipreading cues are something that we all use, and for those with hearing loss, they are even more critical.
- Speak slowly and clearly, but don’t yell because it doesn’t make listening easier for the hearing impaired.
- Paraphrase if the first time your loved one didn’t hear you correctly.
- Put your hand up. If you give a signal before you speak, it will make it easier for those with hearing loss to move their gaze over to your window and get ready to listen to and understand you.
The best way to fight loneliness, boredom, and give us a chance to recreate the sense of camaraderie that so many of us lack right now is to arrange a virtual family reunion. While it takes some work, the members of your family will appreciate the effort you’re making to get everyone together this holiday season.
One important element of staying connected with your loved ones is good hearing! If you’ve noticed changes in your hearing, we’re here to help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing test.