I have long argued that technology has levelled the playing field for hard of hearing individuals in the workforce. Personally, I rely heavily on lip-reading, which of course is most effective when you’re sitting in the room with someone looking right at them. Yes, the same advantage occurs through video technology but due to lagging, poor video quality, glitches, etc… it currently is not nearly as good as being in the room with someone.
The current global Coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic have forced organizations to act quickly and shift business practices too, where possible, forcing employees to work from home on a full-time basis. There has been a plethora of help guides, policy documents and supporting literature to help organizations make this transition as easy as possible. Now is the time that collaboration tools such as Slack, Zoom, Google Hangout and Meet, and the many others show their true business value.
Organizations still need to ensure these shifting practices enable employees who require accommodation and assistance to continue being productive, efficient and valuable members of their teams. For those who are hard of hearing like myself, I want to draw specific attention to Google Hangouts Meet (see video demo below). It’s essentially the business version of Google Hangout. The reason I’m drawing attention to this tool is that it offers real-time caption capabilities, which I absolutely love. Not only do I have the advantage of lip-reading I can ensure that I capture everything the person is saying through the real-time caption. Honestly, it’s been a life-saver for me as I’ve used the application many times now with success. I no longer have to worry about missing information because I wasn’t able to hear or lip-read someone.
Ensuring your collaboration tools ensure full accessibility of your employees is crucially important to maintain business continuity as the world deals with this highly complex global pandemic. To many, this recommendation may appear small but the impact and positive effects are exponential.