‘Tis the Season: Connecting during COVID

by Gloria M. Matthews

It’s that time of the year when friends and families usually get together to celebrate the Christmas season. Unfortunately, due to COVID, gatherings are now a growing source for the increasing cases across the country. While this year has been a terrible year for many, a “no-words” one for some and a brutal one, it’s hard to stay away from family and friends. That human connection, the ability to physically hug, shake hands and be close to one another is now diminished due to COVID.

So how do we reconnect in the time of COVID? 

One of the things we can do is actually check in with each other more. Try pen paling (email or snail mail), video chatting, phone calls, text messaging or chat messages on social media platforms. I know these options cannot replace the physical components of human connections, but we can connect through words. I believe it’s time to get back to utilizing words in the proper contexts to convey its messages and meanings in a very impactful way. We can captivate our intended audience by allowing our words to be felt and “heard” in a caring and warm manner. When we can convey any message well, we share in the humanity of the meanings behind what is being written and spoken.

 When it comes to those with hearing loss, written words MATTER!

It matters because folks like me, with a hearing loss, are left out of many different kinds of group conversations, meetings or even team building activities. After a while, it’s easier to be a loner and feel like an outcast.

So, how do you include those with hearing loss? Good question! You can do the following:

  • Get the individual’s attention first
  • Give them an agenda that will outline topics being discussed
  • In meetings institute a “one person at a time speaks” rule to make following the conversation easier.
  • Allow for accommodations to be used such as CART or Google Transcribe (Android Only)
  • For video meetings, you can use Google Meet (better captioning than Skype)
  • If using Zoom, unfortunately captioning is only available via third-party paid services at the moment but to get creative you can utilize Google Translate on your Android phone by placing it next to the speaker of the computer or laptop.
    • Another method which is fairly new is to test out the new Ava web based captioning system at Ava.ai/captions. Like its app, you need to invite people to join in the conversation for it to work – (another unnecessary step) for hearing loss individuals to do.
  • With family and friends, please be mindful in video chats to have one individual at a time speaking and utilize Google Meet as it will allow for them to read what is being said. They will greatly appreciate it and it’s FREE!!!!

 Do you have another creative way to communicate? We want to hear from you!

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