Enjoy holiday gatherings with these communication tips
The holidays are a time for family members and friends to celebrate individual traditions, catch up, and enjoy each other’s company. If you or someone you care for has hearing loss, it’s essential to find ways to ensure your communication during the holidays is meaningful and hearing-loss friendly.
Whether you’re connecting virtually due to social distancing-related restrictions or gathering a small group together for an in-person celebration, there are several ways to improve communication during the holidays.
These virtual and in-person hearing loss communications tips for the holidays include:
- Choose video calls for virtual gatherings
- Create a hearing loss-friendly environment
- Cut down on background noise
- Take turns while speaking
- Provide instruction printouts for activities
- Use assistive technologies
Read on to learn more hearing loss communication tips for the holidays.
Choose video calls for virtual gatherings
If you can’t be together in person this holiday season, consider connecting through a video call platform like Facetime or Zoom instead of traditional phone calls. With a video call, you can feel more like you’re together with the person on the other end of the line, with the added bonus of being able to see their facial expressions. If you have hearing loss and are a CapTel user, you can use your CapTel phone to call into your virtual get together and receive captions to be sure of what everyone is saying.
Create a hearing loss-friendly environment
If you and your friends or family can get together this season, there are ways to make the space you meet in more hearing-loss friendly. Suggest a circular seating arrangement and adjust the lighting if needed, so you can see the faces of everyone who is speaking. The same tips can apply to virtual gatherings – ask that the people you’re talking with over video call position themselves on camera in a well-lit space so you can easily see who is speaking and follow along.
Cut down on background noise
Whether you’re meeting in person or virtually, eliminating unnecessary background noise can help you focus on your conversations and the festivities easier. Keep any televisions or background music at a low volume and find a quite space away from children playing or any loud cooking-related sounds from the kitchen. If your holiday celebration is over a video call, ask other participants to mute themselves when they’re not speaking to reduce any feedback or background noise from their homes.
Take turns while speaking
Taking turns while speaking, both during in-person gatherings and over virtual calls, can help make conversations easier to follow for everyone, especially people with hearing loss. By reminding everyone to speak one at a time, you won’t have to try to drown out others to focus on your current conversation.
Provide instruction printouts for activities
Does your family enjoy playing games or hosting a gift swap during the holidays? If so, consider printing out instructions for these activities ahead of time, or providing them in an email or Word document if your activities are virtual. This way, everyone in attendance will be on the same page with clear, easy-to-reference rules, and people with hearing loss won’t have to worry about missing any spoken instructions.
Use assistive technologies
Whether your gathering is in-person or virtual, consider using assistive technologies. You may ask your audiologist about trying hearing aids or bring a personal sound amplification product (PSAP) with you to a gathering. If you’re unable to meet with friends and family this holiday season for social distancing purposes, another technology option is a CapTel captioned telephone. These phones function like typical telephones, but offer captions so you can read along with everything the other person is saying and never miss a word!