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Workplace - communication accommodations during COVID-19 pandemic while wearing masks


Nikki
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Hi All,

I am bilaterally implanted and been using Sonnets ( 2.5 years & 1.5 years).  My Ci's  opened up so many opportunities for personal and professional growth - and made a very positive impact  on my life.  I am sure many of you can relate.  It's been  a lot  easier for me to identify as hard of hearing and actually talk openly about my experience with my friends and coworkers [and anyone who cares to hear about it :)].  This is why I want to embrace the opportunity to educate my coworkers about the proper way to communicate with CI recipient.  Although my co-workers have been very supportive throughout my CI journey, there are still situations when the hearing issue create big misunderstanding, tension and unpleasant atmosphere.  Not sure they completely get why CI works amazing sometimes and not others..  

I am working on a document to share with human resources at my workplace, outlining the best ways to communicate with me during the COVID 19 pandemic – as everyone is always required to keep at least 6 ft apart and wear masks.   I don't mind asking for reasonable accommodation but I do want to make sure I cover any scenario that may arise and include any  assistive listening device I'd like to make them aware I'd need to set up and use.  For this, I need your help in helping me think of different accommodations that may benefit CI user in multi speaker situations, especially in noisy environment and  in addition to "removing mask while speaking to HoH person".  

I found a really cute handout to possibly start using, please feel free to add suggestion in different sections.  What  would you want your co-workers to know about improving communication with you as CI user and which accommodations would you ask for?  Did anybody successfully use any device or tool that they can recommend?  Did anyone use any transcription app/ browser extension, specifically on Microsoft Surface Pro ?  (Live transcribe does not work directly on surface pro - if anyone know a way to work around this please let me know!)  

Source:  http://cisupportcenter.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Resource-7_FINAL.pdf

1.  Explain your hearing loss and the limitations of your cochlear implant.

2.  Make specific requests and explain why you are making the request.

3.  Use “I” statements.

4.  Ask for context and topic words.

5.  Rephrase rather than repeat.

6.  Ask for written or nonverbal communication.

7.  Speak up when you do not understand what is being said in the conversation.

 

Thanks in advance for participating in this discussion :)

 

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  • HearPeers Heroes

Over the course of my progressive hearing loss, I went through many different levels of acceptance of the hearing loss and self-advocacy skills.  I had decades of practice.

My recommendation is to be as specific as you can.  List things people can do that help you.

Communication is a two way street.  We can learn skills and use assistive tech to help us hear better in difficult listening situations.  Others can learn behaviors that help us too.  
 

Things to consider for your list....

- meetings held in quiet locations

- use of remote mics (Roger Select, Roger Pen, Artone Mic, AudioLink)

- use of speech to text apps (STT).... LiveTranscribe on Android, Otter.ai on iOS

- access to notes/summary from meetings in print  

- a signal that alerts the speaker that you need to interrupt for clarification (holding up one finger)

- use of face masks with clear windows (degrades speech but provides visual cues so you may prefer this or may prefer regular masks with better audio)

 

Most importantly, keep communicating about what works and what doesn’t work for you.  Commit to finding a way for successful communication at work.

 

Face masks and increased distance are presenting communication problems for many many people who had been living an easy listening life with their CIs before the pandemic.  You can read countless posts on social media from CI adults describing their difficulties in hearing and their feelings about once again struggling to hear.  It is sad.  

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  • HearPeers Heroes

@Nikki, you're having in-person meetings?  Wow.  We don't, anymore.  Everything's on MS Teams, which is GREAT for me because 1) it forced me to face my fear of the telephone, and 2) it sounds really clear with my neckloop.  It's been far, far better than I expected.

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Happy for you @Mary Featherston

our lab is essential infrastructure and fully staffed.  The main issue I have is with impromptu meetings by my Mass-Spec instrument and Nitrogen generator that feeds the instruments...  both chemists can tap in at any time and talk to me about legal report for example,  without prior notice.  Then jump between subjects as they please.   Yes business as usual,  only with masks on.  There are also regular meetings for data review.  We do keep physical distancing during all these meetings.  

I'm so happy things are going really well with the challenges you are facing and that the phone is no longer the worst enemy.  Thanks CIs... despite limitations,  it's working wonders daily.  

I emailed HR back on Monday (MB thanks so much for responding Sunday, for whatever strange reason I did not get notification).  In my email, i've listened limitations and solutions,  listing what are my needs and I intend to hand it out to my core team so they can learn too how to communicate more effectively with me.  They are a very supportive bunch so i'm not too worried.  I just know it's going to be WORK for everyone... hopefully it'd pay off.

As an Exemption we will go with removing masks when needed but I did mail them also a request for an app similar to Live Transcribe that can work on my provided Surface Pro. 

MB, thank you for the summary and options listed.  Yes you are correct- taking initiative and being your own advocate is the key to finding best solutions.  

I wrote up 2 most common situations I struggle with and how they can be made better so far and i'm sure the list will grow.

I do need to practice the solution and make sure I have the tools ready to use at any time. 

I'm happy my organisation is willing to help me with it.  It's very good together. 

 

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If anyone is aware of good live transcription app that can work with Surface Pro ( free or not ) please let me know.  

Thank you in advance. 

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8 minutes ago, Mary Beth said:

@Nikki

Try otter.ai or web captioner

:D good to know that whatever can work on iOS could work on windows

Apple Microsoft frenemies??!

Thanks MB!

 

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  • HearPeers Heroes

I like otter.ai on iOS.  I am not a fan of web captioner but other people like it.

By far my favorite speech to text app is LiveTranscribe on Android.

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5 minutes ago, Mary Beth said:

I like otter.ai on iOS.  I am not a fan of web captioner but other people like it.

By far my favorite speech to text app is LiveTranscribe on Android.

i have samsung phone but one of the things i like most  about live transcribe is the flex and large font size.  just downloaded otter, it got small font over white background.  

i'll look into captioner now. 

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the captioner will have to be tested real time.  I will try it at the lab and come back with conclusions.  

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  • HearPeers Heroes

@Nikki, good for you, I think that making your needs clear is a great step.  My hearing was so bad for so long that I just told everyone straight out, I'm not going to hear you all the time.  And when I had to be in a conference call I made sure that someone else was in the room with me to "translate".  Once when I'd basically got to the point where my right ear didn't hear anything (but my hearing aids talked to each other so I still wore the one in my right ear) my boss pulled me aside in a meeting and told me my hearing aid was beeping - feedback because the little silicone cone wasn't seated well.  I had NO idea, but Jim could hear.  And he and all the others were wonderfully helpful.  Seriously, I have so appreciated my coworkers over the years.  People are generally willing to help when they understand what's going on and know what you need.

So I bet your list will be a great start.

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