Are your employees with hearing loss missing out on the communication support they need to be more efficient?
Here’s our helpful guide to offering more communication support for staff with hearing loss.
Supporting employees with hearing loss who are working from home
If you have staff with hearing loss working remotely, some simple adjustments can help them stay better connected.
Start by asking their preferred method of communication. In today’s high-tech world, there are many online tools available. Video conferencing is increasingly popular as it allows people with deafness and hearing loss to use visual cues to follow the conversation and some apps have automatic captions. However, virtual meetings can be exhausting and challenging without good deaf awareness from other participants.
It’s easy to make your video conference calls more accessible and deaf friendly. Before the meeting, find out if anyone needs communication support and allow plenty of time to arrange it if necessary. Test the technology in advance with staff who have hearing loss and circulate the agenda so that everyone has a clear reference point to follow.
At the start of the meeting, check that all hearing loops, webcams and microphones have been switched on and are set at the correct levels. It’s also good practice to remind everyone to face the camera at all times, speak clearly without covering their mouth and use visual cues where possible, such as raising a hand before talking.
It’s vital that attendees on calls are well lit, and sit near the camera to enable lipreading. During the meeting, the chair should ensure that only one person speaks at a time and breaks are scheduled if the video call lasts longer than an hour. Round up the meeting by summarising the next steps and any actions. Afterwards, share the minutes with all participants as soon as possible.
If employees with hearing loss are likely to work from home for an extended period, consider what you can provide to help them work more easily and effectively. There’s a range of assistive equipment and support available – room loops, personal listening devices and wireless audio streamers, amplified phones, voice recognition speech-to text software, and BSL interpreters via video remote interpreting and video relay. (Please note that we do not currently offer a remote interpreting service but we hope to have it available in the near future). It’s good practice to record their communication needs and review them on a regular basis.
Supporting employees with hearing loss outside the office
As lockdown starts to ease and more people return to work, it’s important to ensure that employees with hearing loss can fully participate at external meetings, conferences and training sessions. Don’t assume their communication needs will be the same as when working remotely or in the office. Encourage staff to tell you what support they require in order to communicate clearly and confidently in external work situations.
RNID (formerly Action on Hearing Loss) is the UK’s largest specialist agency providing communication support for people who are deaf or have hearing loss. We’ll recommend the most appropriate communication professional depending on your employee and the setting they are attending.
We can supply qualified and registered BSL sign language interpreters, speech-to-text reporters, lipspeakers, electronic notetakers, and deafblind interpreters for one-off bookings or long-term contracts. We’ll also advise whether you’ll need one or two communication professionals. For assignments of up to two hours, one person is usually enough as long as there are regular breaks. Book with confidence – we only work with interpreters registered with NRCPD, RBSLI or, if you’re based in Scotland, SASLI.
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Also check out our free resources for remote working blog post.