What You Can Do to Make the Holidays Bright for those with Hearing Loss
It’s beginning to look a lot like the holidays, isn’t it? Celebration calls for gatherings of groups of people – and as 2020 has taught us, sometimes this isn’t always in person, but rather via a phone call or family video chat. Ironically, it’s often these large, happy gatherings that make certain people feel terribly isolated. When someone struggles to hear, conversations drain away the festive feeling.
Here are some suggestions.
Be Ready and Willing to Accommodate
As with many things in life, one doesn’t know what one hasn’t experienced. Individuals who don’t experience hearing loss firsthand, often aren’t fully aware of the challenges that come with even the slightest hearing loss. Difficulties with speech understanding and following conversations are common with hearing loss. The holiday atmosphere can really amplify those challenges. Loud rooms with competing noises can make it difficult for people to distinguish specific sounds, and that’s why it’s important to create an accommodating environment for everyone. Turn down the holiday music a few notches – music combined with raised voices can really be overpowering.
Something else to consider is cross conversations. During the holidays, we often see people we haven’t seen in a while. It’s natural to be excited when catching up and conversing, but oftentimes noisy conversations are hard to follow. Keep conversations open to everyone.
So, if you’re close to someone with hearing loss — whether they’re a relative or friend, old or young — take some deliberate steps to ensure their involvement in all moments of the celebration. It could be one of the greatest gifts you could give them this holiday.
Effective Communication: It’s Better for Everyone
These quick tips can help you communicate better with someone experiencing hearing loss.
- Keep background noise at a minimum. Like we mentioned, background noise can sound different to different people. Additional noise makes things more difficult to comprehend.
- Learn how they communicate. Levels of hearing loss vary — and not everyone can read lips or sign.
- Create a clear line of sight. Create a setting where everyone has communication-friendly seating. Lip reading and hearing opportunities are important.
- Don’t talk with a mouth full of food. The holidays are prime eating times. Don’t get carried away and try to talk and eat at the same time.
- Never give up! Don’t stop the conversation just because you run into a barrier. Keep trying with different ways to communicate!
- Be willing to repeat yourself. Avoid saying “never mind” if someone doesn’t understand something. Reword the statement in a different way. By using different words or rephrasing the sentence, those with hearing loss can stay included in the conversation!
Video Chat Your Family with Relay Conference Captioning (RCC)
For many of us, this year the holidays will look different from previous years. That doesn’t mean communication has to stop. Whether family is near or far, communication stays strong with Relay Conference Captioning (RCC). With RCC, remote phone and video calls are made easy and accessible. Real-time captions give full access to spoken dialogue, which means full access to family. Everyone deserves some holiday cheer this season, and RCC can help. Remember to allow 48 hours to schedule RCC so a captioner may be secured for your family gathering.
The Holidays Are for Everyone
If you aren’t used to communicating with someone who is deaf or hard of hearing, don’t feel nervous or apprehensive. Let the holiday spirit fill you up and think of it as a moment to share some warmth and cheer — something we all need. Just making the effort goes a long way, not only for those friends and family with a hearing loss, but for you, too. The holidays are for everyone. Be sure to make sure everyone enjoys the season.
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