Updated: Dec 8, 2020
It’s almost that time of year again! Only this time it's going to be a bit... different.
With possible restrictions who knows if we will have to celebrate a virtual Christmas dinner party with our family and friends?
Whilst we all want to be with our loved ones and celebrate Christmas as we normally would, we will have to be a little sensible and follow whatever guidance is set in place for this year….
So, if you have a deaf or hard of hearing friend or family member, please take into account the following tips when setting up a group video-call:
First of all, test the platform* with the deaf person beforehand.
Make sure that your face is well-lit placing the source of light in any place but behind you, in order to avoid shadows that will make lipreading harder.
Also don't cover your mouth while speaking and look directly to the camera. No talking with your mouth full or turkey or mince pies either!
Use a platform that provides live captions** and also a chat - It will help to clarify any missing information.
Obviously live captions have some limitations, hence in order to have as much accurate subtitles as possible, you will need to establish a rota to speak and avoid background noise (TOP TIP: to avoid background noise, ensure that your microphone is muted when you are not speaking ㋡)
Restrict, if possible, the number of participants up to 10 people maximum. Anything above this number will make turn-taking incredibly challenging.
If you are a hearing aid user get some really great headphones that fit over your hearing aids nicely - It might be a good Christmas gift idea?.
If the deaf person is using an interpreter, leave gaps for the Interpreter to sign what is being said.
I know that it might be a challenge and this is going to be big effort indeed for all concerned, but all of us will need to consider this advice to make Christmas safe and accessible for everyone and don't let our deaf/hard of hearing friends and family members being left behind, please.
If you are going to gather a small group of family members, friends or work colleagues, please, first of all follow the COVID-19 safety measures, and also you might want to read the following article with 10 tips to ensure the deaf person doesn't feel left out during Christmas dinners.
* My preferred platform is Skype or Zoom, but I will leave you a link with an overview of the main video conferencing services and their basic features and accessibility functions: List of best video conferencing apps and software for accessibility
** Live video captions are closed captions automatically transcribed that appear on the screen as people talk. Also called subtitles, live subtitles, closed captions and automatic video captions.