ASHA Tips for Virtual Seasonal Gatherings

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Holiday dinners, religious services, and other seasonal gatherings are moving online this year due to the pandemic. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association offers these tips to help those with hearing loss enjoy the modified holiday festivities:

Turn on closed captioning. Many meeting platforms now offer this option, which can make a world of difference for those with hearing loss.

Seat strategically. Give those with hearing loss a seat closest to the screen and near the speakers.

Stream virtual gatherings to a larger monitor or TV screen. This will give people with hearing loss better access to visual cues, such as being able to see the speaker’s facial expressions.

Practice good communication habits. Take turns talking, try your best not to interrupt, and limit side conversations when gathering a group online. This will make the experience more enjoyable for all. Consider using meeting platform tools such as the mute button, the raise-hand feature, and chat boxes to help, if needed.

For people who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants, Bluetooth streaming directly into their hearing devices might be an option (if you have questions about whether your hearing devices have this feature, contact your audiologist). For larger gatherings (such as a virtual religious service), people with hearing loss can check with organizers ahead of time to see if captioning or other accommodations will be provided.

About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)

ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for 211,000 members and affiliates who are audiologists; speech-language pathologists; speech, language, and hearing scientists; audiology and speech-language pathology support personnel; and students. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment, including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems, including swallowing disorders.

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