Following recent world events, working from home has become a new reality for many people regardless of the profession or industry you work in. We spoke to cochlear implant recipients who are working remotely to find out their top tips to make it work for you.

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Use video conferencing where possible

Phone calls can be challenging for people with hearing loss – especially when calls involve groups of people.

Tom, who works in search and rescue and is regularly involved in staff meetings, uses video conferencing as it allows him to use visual cues such as lip reading, which makes it easier to follow the conversation.

“Since my colleagues are sitting directly in front of their laptops, each person pops up on the screen which makes it easier to follow the conversation,” says Tom, who also recommends using a larger monitor if possible.

“As well as using Skype1, my department installed Microsoft Teams this week so employees could conduct meetings remotely and not be exposed to potential hazards like COVID-19.” Tom says, “these resources are awesome and compatible with my [Cochlear™] Nucleus 7® [Sound Processors] via Bluetooth®2. [They are] an absolute game-changer for me as much of my job is handling and dealing with people.”

Tom, shares tips for working from home with cochlear implant while on a video call at his desk.

Ask for an agenda and documents ahead of a conference call

Greg is an electrical engineer and bilateral cochlear implant recipient who regularly participates in teleconferences with colleagues around the world.

Greg’s number one tip for conference calls is to always ask for an agenda from the meeting organizer.

“While this is generally good business practice, it helps you to prepare background information on the topics to be discussed and provides some boundaries on what might be said during the meeting,” says Greg.

It’s also useful to ask that presentation materials, even in draft form, be provided before the meeting so you don’t have to read the text on the screen as well as concentrate on what is being said by the presenter and others, Greg advises.

Follow up meetings with an email

Communication is vital at a time like this for Lynn, a Cochlear Nucleus 6 and 7 Sound Processor user who is an assisted care administrator: “My role involves coordinating care for elderly residents who live independently in subsidized housing communities. During the pandemic, it is my goal to keep our residents safe at home, so they do not need to be hospitalized.”

“For phone calls, I use my [Cochlear True Wireless™] Phone Clip, but I also make sure that I follow up with an email or a text just for clarification to make sure that nothing else was missed or misunderstood in the conversation,” says Lynn.

Other tools, such as instant messenger apps, also allow you to supplement your verbal communications with follow-up written communication.

Lynn reads on her computer and shares tips for working from home with cochlear implant. Lynn has a Nucleus 6 and 7.

Stream your phone calls

Recruitment Consultant and Cochlear Baha® Sound Processor recipient, Kelly, says she uses her cell phone to stream calls to her sound processor and connects her True Wireless Mini Microphone 2+ to her computer to listen to videos and stream webinars. “I just plug it in and off I go,” says Kelly. “It’s perfectly clear and super easy.”

If you use a Nucleus 7 Sound Processor or Baha 5 Sound Processor, you can stream business calls and videos directly from a compatible Apple®3or Android™4 device using the Smart App. If you use an Android device or another smartphone, you can stream calls to your Baha 5 Sound Processor by using the True Wireless Phone Clip.

“With the Phone Clip, I am able to take telephone calls all day long on my cell phone,” says Jack, who is an electrical contractor. “What’s nice about the phone clip is I don’t have to pick up the telephone, I can just hit the button and answer the call.”

Streaming calls from your iPhone®5 also means if you’re in the garden or garage while working from home, you are always contactable: “The streaming function of the Nucleus 7 [Sound Processor] means I won’t miss the call,” says Tom.

Streaming video conference calls

Streaming is not only powerful to take phone calls, but also when participating in video conferences.

“I was on a 2.5 hour Skype call this week which involved a very large group of people and a PowerPoint6 presentation. I could not see the presenter, just his computer screen. The meeting organizer disabled the audio on his end, which enabled us to dial in using our cell phones for the audio,” says Tom.

“It was awesome as my Bluetooth enables the sound to go right into my processors, which gives a stereo effect. I’d never had a conference meeting like that, but it was good.”

Let people know about your hearing loss

“Let your colleagues and customers know you have hearing loss and the types of situations ­– like people using their phones hand-free or talking simultaneously – that are challenging for you. People can be very accommodating, provided they are aware of your challenges,” says Greg.

Lynn agrees: “In meetings, be upfront and tell people that you didn’t hear what they said,” says Lynn. “Even if not during a meeting, afterwards say: ‘I didn’t hear what you said, do you mind repeating it for me’.”

Kelly adds that it’s also important to let colleagues know if you experience particular challenges: “If you struggle with phone calls but don’t communicate this, they are going to wonder why you’re not taking their calls.”

Tom says he still struggles with larger group calls because of the distance between the microphone and each speaker in a large room. His advice is to make sure you are sitting in a closed room to eliminate background noise and remember to remind your co-workers that you have a hearing issue: “I simply remind them to sit a little closer to the microphone.”

Learn more about the accessories mentioned in this article.

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Anna Martinez
Anna Martinez is the Services and Marketing Specialist and has worked for Cochlear since 2016. She is responsible for facilitating recipient services content development and approval. Anna is a Colorado native and enjoys being outside in the beautiful weather with her husband and daughter.