The opportunity to work from home has become more commonplace as businesses strive to keep employees engaged. For employees with hearing loss, there are some critical factors to setting up a home workspace that can help you stay focused, connected, and productive.
Manage background noise
Excess background noise is one of the most challenging obstacles for anyone working from home, particularly when there are others in your household. For example, it can be difficult to concentrate if someone in your family is watching TV or if sounds from the neighborhood, such as traffic or sirens, intrude. Noise-canceling headphones block out ambient noise and can help you stay focused. Some hearing aids and cochlear implants connect directly to headphones via Bluetooth or telecoil (t-coil), enabling you to better hear just the sounds you need for work. Check your hearing aid or cochlear implant user manual or with your audiologist to see what options you have.
Conference call etiquette
If you participate in conference calls or video calls, position your computer monitor in an area that is well lit, yet free from distracting views. Help educate your colleagues on good video call etiquette, including:
- Ask participants to say their name before they speak and request that only one person speaks at a time.
- Ask fellow employees to use the mute feature when they are not speaking, to allow you to focus on the speaker’s voice.
- Set your videoconference features to show the speaking party full screen, making it easier to read lips or pick up on facial cues throughout the call.
- Participants need to have adequate lighting that allows you to see their face, free from obstructions. Remind team members to adjust the lighting or reposition themselves if necessary.
- Ask the moderator to turn on the closed captions feature so you can read captions throughout the video call.
Notification system for chat and email
Many people rely on an audible ding from their computer to be alerted that a co-worker is trying to reach them. Consider setting up a flashing light or buzz notification to alert you whenever you receive a message. I have this set up on my iPhone and iWatch to alert me of incoming messages.
Try recording your meetings as they happen. Many video call providers allow you to store video recordings on your computer or in the cloud. That way, if you miss a snippet of a meeting or the call becomes challenging to understand, you can refer to the recording later and make sure you didn’t miss anything.
To ensure effective communication with your colleagues, consider a captioned telephone that allows you to read what the person on the other end of the line says. Depending on the type of phone model, you may be able to save conversations so you can review captions after the call.
By creating a distraction-free workspace – where you feel comfortable and connected – your work-from-home experience can be positive and productive!
For questions, contact HLAA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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