Ensuring That Your Meetings Are Accessible to People with Hearing Loss

Ensuring That Your Meetings Are Accessible to People with Hearing Loss

Ron Middleton Communication, hearing loss, Tips and Tricks, Work & Economy

Ron Middleton

Ron has been a part of the Lifestyle team helping people hear better since 2005. Before joining our team, Ron served in the U.S. Air Force for 22 years. As a Master Sergeant, he was Superintendent of Wing Aircrew Life Support and oversaw a staff of nearly 100. For the past decade, Ron has contributed to the community through leadership roles in the Tucson Downtown Lions Club.
Ron Middleton

About 48 million Americans have some sort of hearing loss, and 60% of those are currently in the workforce or in some sort of educational setting. If you are a business or educational leader, it is important that your meetings and presentations take into account accessibility for people with hearing loss.

As hearing devices get smaller and more discreet, many of us don’t even realize there our co-workers are hard of hearing and using hearing devices. At Lifestyle Hearing Solutions, we can help improve your hearing – the first step is a hearing evaluation – but we also want to emphasize that business, corporations and governmental bodies have an obligation to make sure their message can be understood by everyone.

Communication barriers

The biggest barrier to communication is accessibility. Often you don’t know someone might be hearing impaired and fail to account for it if you are holding a meeting or giving a presentation. Many people mistakenly believe that anyone with hearing loss understands and uses sign language. Oftentimes, this is not the case, as acquired hearing loss is treated with the use of hearing aids.

One solution is CART, which stands for Communication Access Realtime Translation. Using CART is your best bet to grant full access to everyone. To ensure that your meetings and presentations are accessible, consider training all staff members to use CART.

Tips for Inclusivity

What is the best way to include those with hearing loss in workplace events? Not everyone uses sign language. Those who grew up in a hearing household or those who acquired hearing loss as an adult do not know sign language. Instead, they may utilize hearing aids, along with captioning for accessibility at larger meetings, teleconferences, and large events – both in person and online.

If your business does not have experience with accommodations for hearing loss, consider consulting an expert captioner. Just using a signing interpreter is counterproductive and a waste of time and money if you are not personally aware that every person with hearing loss can understand sign language.
Too often, professionals assume those with hearing loss can read lips or somehow work out what is being said at large conferences. Although someone who has hearing loss might be communicating adequately in a one-on-one situation, things are quite different in a large room with noise and distractions. Captioning is the only way to ensure everyone is getting and understanding the message.

Training & Helpful Hints

Who should be trained to use captioning and inclusive technology? Everyone! A CEO sets a great example for the rest of the staff. Meeting organizers, managers, and IT and AV staff should all be encouraged to learn more about captioning.

Another great option is the use of headsets. Headsets help amplify sound and ensure that everyone has access to what’s being said. When using headsets, it is important to make sure that everyone is trained to mute the microphones on their headsets when they are not in use – if they’re left on, this could create a lot of unwanted background noise!

The use of proper inclusive technology can make a big difference in a company and it also makes a big difference in the community. Being able to advertise an event as being offered with Open Captioning opens a whole new world of possibilities for a company and a community.

Treat Hearing Loss at Lifestyle Hearing Solutions

Are you concerned with your hearing abilities? You don’t have to struggle through meetings and lectures with untreated hearing loss. Sadly, statistics show many Americans wait five to seven years to have their hearing loss treated. Hearing tests are free at Lifestyle Hearing Solutions and we are committed to putting you on the path to improved hearing!