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Hear and Connect Better On Videoconference Calls with Hearing Loss

By Carolyn Stern

Assistant Director of Outreach and Strategic Initiatives

Carolyn Stern, manager of Hearing Health Days for NYC seniors

Carolyn Stern, Asst. Dir. of Outreach and Strategic Initiatives

While other events and programs are cancelled, coping and mastering hearing loss in various situations continues onward. At least that’s true for me. As a bilateral cochlear implant user, I need to continue hearing my best in my personal and professional life.

Communication with my two school-aged children and spouse, as we do our part staying home, has exponentially increased and is wearing out both my ears and brain. Professionally, my meetings and everyday interactions, which were mostly conducted in-person (and my preferred mode, as it is for most people with hearing loss), have come to a screeching halt. Work communications have shifted instantly to the phone and videoconferencing. This has made me feel uneasy and anxious because my ability to hear well in those situations was often hit or miss. I was not prepared and needed to improve my home computer setup and captioning options to help me hear and connect better on videoconferencing calls.

After trying a few things and struggling a bit on my own, I reached out to CHC’s audiology team for assistance with improving my ability to hear the computer audio while on videoconferencing calls. After working together remotely, we developed a great solution that keeps me connected to CHC staff, industry colleagues and everyone else in my professional and personal world.

How CHC Helped Me (Step-by-Step)

First, I connected with CHC audiologist, Dr. Jane Auriemmo, from our respective homes over email, phone and CHC’s telehealth video conferencing tool, a HIPAA-compliant platform called VSee. Dr. Auriemmo began the session by inspecting my hearing technology to make sure it was working correctly.

Dr. Jane Auriemmo checks Carolyn's hearing technology during teletherapy session

Dr. Auriemmo checks hearing technology during teletherapy session

Next, Dr. Auriemmo asked me to show her my streaming device to make sure she knew which one I was using. A streaming device, for those who are not aware, is a device that connects wirelessly to your hearing aids or cochlear implant and streams audio of media, phone and video conferencing calls to your hearing aids or cochlear implants.

Carolyn shows her streaming device to audiologist Jane Auriemmo

Carolyn’s streaming device, a ComPilot by Phonak

Dr. Auriemmo’s goal was to get the computer audio to transmit directly to my cochlear implants through my ComPilot streaming device. We would try to do this wirelessly. If that didn’t work, then we would try a wired approach.

First, Dr. Auriemmo suggested that we try connecting the streaming device wirelessly to the computer audio by using a dongle. A dongle, a Bluetooth adapter plugged into a USB drive of my computer, enables the computer audio from the video conference meeting to transmit wirelessly to the streaming device worn around my neck. But, after several attempts, the dongle was not pairing with my streaming device. For now, we had to drop the wireless approach and we will continue to figure out how to make this work over the next couple of days.

Carolyn displays the dongle adapter

A small black dongle adapter

The next approach was to connect the streaming device to the computer audio using a special cable. I didn’t know this cable was provided in the box I received with my implants. While Dr. Auriemmo waited patiently, I dug up the box, found the cable and with her guidance connected the cable. I put one end of the cable into the speaker’s output and put the other end plugged into the streaming device.

Carolyn showing the cable connected to both streaming device and speakers

Cable connected to streaming device and speakers

Now, for the first time ever, I can hear audio streamed from my computer directly to my cochlear implants through my ComPilot streaming device for video conferencing calls. While I would have preferred a wireless solution with the dongle adapter, the hard wiring solution we went with creates a very secure and reliable audio connection.

And, an unexpected added bonus is now I can hear seamlessly the audio of YouTube videos and video news stories at my workstation whenever I need a break from work!

More Videoconferencing Tips for Zoom and Other Platforms

This post is just one in a series from CHC to help you Hear and Connect better through communication strategies and technology solutions that you can use at home. Click below to check out these related posts:

Contact CHC

Intrigued about how to improve your own set-up for hearing your best while at home during this time? Your CHC audiologist in New York or Ft. Lauderdale is here to help, just like Dr. Auriemmo did for me, so please don’t hesitate to reach out directly.

If you prefer, you can call our main number in New York at 917-305-7700 or in Ft. Lauderdale at 954-601-1930. Or click here to email us and we’ll direct your message to the appropriate clinician.

If you’re not currently a CHC client, but need assistance, we’re happy to help. Also consider reaching out to your hearing aid manufacturer’s help line which is also readily available to aid as well.

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