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5 Tips to Hear Better in Virtual Meetings + Gatherings

5 Tips to Hear Better in Virtual Meetings + Gatherings

Working remotely with hearing loss can be a big challenge.

Whether you’re conducting business online or just want to virtually connect with family and friends, these listening strategies and tactics can go a long way toward helping you stay engaged.

  1. Explore the conferencing platform well before the online meeting or gathering — including reading a little about it or checking out a few quick instructional videos from other users — to build familiarity and confidence.
  2. Encourage everyone to use the video function — not just the audio option — to aid in lipreading and interpreting facial expressions. Also, try to keep your eye as much as possible on the person speaking rather than on your own camera image.
  3. Turn on the closed-captioning option, which can help take a big load off. In addition, consider using the real-time chat function, when available, to get clarification if you missed a point or have a follow-up question. Some video conferences may also be recorded for helpful playback later, so be sure to ask the host, who may need to initiate the recording option.
  4. Wear connected headphones if possible, which can make listening a whole lot easier. Quality headphones not only help block distracting background noise in your environment but can also improve reception of the audio’s full tonal range to make speech and other sounds more understandable.
  5. Stream directly to your hearing technology, if you wear hearing aids. Today’s sophisticated hearing instruments help make it a cinch to receive audio from various sources — phone, tablet, laptop, desktop computer, stereo, and more, depending on compatibility — directly to your ears, so be sure to take advantage of that functionality.

Want more virtual-communication tips? We can help with accessibility strategies and solutions that empower you in managing hearing loss and remote work. So don’t wait. Contact us today!

Hand Dryers: For Kids, Beware the Noise

It’s no secret that hand dryers installed in public bathrooms can seem rather loud, but we were blown away by a young scientist’s findings when she put the volume levels of 44 automated machines to the test in restrooms across Alberta, Canada.

Turns out some of those volumes can do a number on kids’ ears — which are more susceptible to noise-induced hearing problems — by reaching sound levels well beyond the danger zone of 85 decibels. Several of the various brands measured above 100 decibels when in actual use for hand-drying, and one was even greater than 120.

The study, by then-9-year-old Nora Keegan, has captured international attention, with coverage by the New York Times, CNN, Canada’s CBC, and other media outlets. Now 13, Keegan is likely one of the youngest researchers to have her work published in the journal Pediatrics & Child Health.

Per an NPR story, the Calgary student was inspired by the ringing in her ears and other kids’ reactions to hand-dryer noise to get to the bottom of just how loud the dryers — a common presence in public washrooms around the world — can be and whether they might negatively impact hearing ability.

Her research, published this past summer after an approximately 15-month investigation, interestingly noted that some of the automated machines’ higher readings surpassed the legal limit of 100 decibels for peak loudness of children’s toys in Canada.

A few other notable findings from this timely research:

  • “Not all hand dryers are equal in their hearing safety.”
  • Various dryers are potentially louder than some manufacturers’ claims.
  • Dryer noise is “much louder at children’s heights than at adult height.”

According to Keegan, the study’s “results can be used to guide regulators, builders, and landlords in making decisions about which dryers to install in public facilities.” The investigation also highlights “the importance of measuring dryer loudness at the location of children’s ears” — versus that of adults, who are typically taller.


What’s the big deal?

Noise exposure, one of the most preventable risk factors, is a leading cause of hearing impairment — second only to aging. Over a billion children and adults are vulnerable to recreational noise-related hearing impairment alone, per the World Health Organization, making it essential to keep the volume down.

One of the most effective actions you can take is to prevent or limit your child’s exposure to excessively loud noise. Keeping hearing protection on hand — including custom earplugs, headphones, or earmuffs to help temper loud sounds, can also go a long way toward preserving your child’s hearing.

It’s Summer Time And The Best Time To Protect Your Hearing

Actually we need to be protecting our hearing year round, but summer comes to mind most commonly as more people are mowing, using weed eaters and leaf blowers. Typically all of that equipment has potentially damaging decibel levels to our hearing. And once you damage or lose your hearing, we cannot grow it back. It’s just gone. So take some steps to protect your hearing this summer and the rest of the year. Hearing protection comes in a variety of styles and strengths. That is one of our specialties and please contact us if you need guidance.

  1. Wear hearing protection devices while mowing and using loud equipment. Keep in mind 4th of July fireworks are loud as well as winter time chainsaws.
  2. Concerts both indoors and outdoors can be loud and damaging.
  3. Hunting and shooting are hazardous.
  4. If you have to be in a noise environment, such as a sporting event and you cannot or do not have hearing protection then limit your exposure time.
  5. Some motorcycles and tractors (especially those without cabs) can be dangerous to your hearing.
  6. Music headphones can get really loud being so close to your eardrums, so turn them down or limit your time. Also invest in decibel limiting headphones.

Hopefully those are some helpful ideas to protect your hearing. Please contact us if you have any questions as we are happy to help.

Sincerely,

Dr. Stephanie R. Moore
Audiologist