Do you sometimes feel like hearing loss is just one self-advocacy moment after the next? I certainly do. In my latest article for FindHearing.com, I discuss why self-advocacy is so important for people with hearing loss, especially during the time of Covid-19. My hope is that our advocacy efforts during this difficult time will create more inclusive ways of doing things that become the new and higher standard for accessible communication for the future. See an excerpt from the piece below.
Self-Advocacy Key to Life with Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is an invisible disability, so it has always been important for us to let others know about the assistance we need. We must continue to do this as we face new obstacles like face masks and virtual communication brought on by Covid-19. Through advocacy, we can educate the general population about the challenges of hearing loss and the best practice communication tips that we use to help us hear our best. The more they know and understand, the easier it will be for us to receive the help that we need.
Face masks add a new challenge.
It is important to wear masks to protect ourselves and others from the spread of the virus, but masks make many of our typical communication strategies like speech reading less effective. When having trouble communicating because of face masks explain the situation to your conversation partner. Try saying something like: “I have hearing loss and am having trouble understanding you because of our masks. Would you please speak a bit louder and slower so I can hear you better?” I recommend saying “our masks” rather than “your mask” to demonstrate that we are in this situation together and to avoid any appearance of blame.
Video conference calls can be exhausting.
Quarantining at home can mean long days of video conference calls, and without captioning, these can be very challenging for people with hearing loss. I recommend using Google Meet whenever possible since it provides free high-quality captioning for all video calls. Unfortunately, many businesses and schools use Zoom, which does not have this feature.
For a Zoom call, you can request that the host hire a third-party closed captioning service or create your open captions, using a speech-to-text app like Otter or Google’s Live Transcribe on a supplemental device like your smartphone. Many of us have come together to advocate for free auto-captioning for people with hearing loss on video conferencing platforms. If you believe Zoom should be providing free high quality auto-captions on its platform for people with hearing loss, consider signing this petition.
Continue reading on FindHearing.com about more ways to advocate for yourself during this challenging time.