Communication At Work: May is Better Hearing and Speech Month!

In Communication by Christa N. Smith, Au.D., CCC-A

Christa N. Smith, Au.D., CCC-A
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When someone struggles to hear, they also struggle to communicate. It can be extremely challenging to respond to the world around you when you cannot hear what people around you are saying. Around 466 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss and associated language issues.

To highlight the importance of treating and accommodating people with hearing and language challenges the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has set aside the month of May and dubbed it Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM). BHSM aims to illuminate the challenges that people with hearing and speech problems face daily, and to urge people to pay attention to their own hearing and speech ability.

If there are any clues suggesting that you or someone you care about may be struggling with communication via speech and hearing, then BHSM is a call to action to treat these issues and understand the ways in which treatment can improve quality of life.

Communication At Work

The theme for this year’s BHSM is “Communication at Work,” but as Americans across the country are affected by social distancing measures, working from home with speech and hearing disorders can pose a new set of challenges. This theme has been shifted to focus on tools for supporting those with hearing, speech and language disabilities through the pandemic. The danger of isolation for people with hearing challenges can be amplified with the lack of external stimuli that many face as many outlets for socialization have been minimized. The theme “Communication at Work” will inform the public of ways to communicate from home and address unique challenges for this demographic during these unprecedented times.

Remote work with Hearing and Speech Issues

While millions of Americans are forced to work from home during the shelter at home order, this can create a challenge for those who struggle with hearing and speech. With the rise of telecommunication during this pandemic, setting up a home office presents unique challenges when you’ve got hearing loss.

“If you’re new to working virtually, you may not think about things like setting your microphone to mute when you’re not speaking, but tips like these are really helpful,” said Mandy Mroz, AuD, president of Healthy Hearing.

Tips to inform coworkers who don’t have hearing loss

If you are now using video conferencing instead of holding in person meetings make sure everyone introduces themselves at the beginning of the meeting. This can give people with hearing loss time to adjust the sound and become ready to engage.

Make sure everyone has their video on and is well lit to provide visual cues for people with hearing loss as many use body language and lip reading. To ensure a clear sound for all users, make sure to wear a headset and use the mute button when not speaking to reduce unwanted background noise. Many conferencing apps allow you to record the meeting, which can be a valuable tool for those with hearing loss so they can review any information that may have been missed during the meeting.

Virtual meetings With Hearing Loss

If you use hearing aids with Bluetooth technology, make sure to sync them to the device you are holding the conference on. This will make sure that the sound of the meeting is streamed directly into your hearing aids.  You may also want to try using noise-canceling headphones to reduce unwanted background noise and make it much easier to hear the speaker. Most importantly, make sure to speak up if you are having trouble hearing. If you are struggling, there is a good chance you are not the only one. Don’t miss important assignments, information, updates, or knowledge necessary for your participation during and after the meeting because you are afraid to speak up about hearing issues.

Seek Help Today

Many problems with hearing can be dealt with by seeking help. If you are not wearing hearing aids but are finding yourself struggling, what a better time than Better Hearing and Speech Month to seek the help you need to hear your best. This May, schedule a hearing test with our team and make sure you can communicate your best!