A reader asked:
I communicate best by writing (email, text, etc) and have a hard time with methods of communication that are voice-heavy (Skype calls, phone calls) because I have auditory-processing problems. Several long distance friends do better with auditory communication and worse with writing. But they speak really fast/garbled/quietly, so I can’t understand them sometimes. I end up avoiding them because it’s too frustrating for me to ask them to repeat every sentence, but I don’t want to. Please help?
A couple of options:
Ask them what they think
- Is their need to use voice methods of communication on the same level as yours?
- Would they be able to use text for you sometimes?
Use typing for repeating:
- It might be less frustrating to use Skype than the phone if you make good use of the typing feature
- Would it work to use text to ask them to repeat things, and have them repeat it in text rather than voice?
- That might make communication easier for both of you
Use something higher quality
- If sound quality is making them hard to understand, it might be a problem you can solve
- Different video chat services do things differently
- It might make sense to try several and see if some are more comprehensible than others
- If you can upgrade your internet, it might be worth doing
- Getting better headphones might also help
- It also might help if they get a better microphone instead of relying on their computer’s internal speakers
- If you have access to a landline, sometimes the audio quality is better than on a cell phone
Use an interpreter.
- You might be able to use something like Sprint Ip Relay to make TTY calls over the internet.
- There’s also a thing called ClearCaptions that’s a captioned phone service that live captions calls. You have to be willing to swear that you’re Deaf, hear of hearing, or otherwise phone disabled. (I think that having auditory processing problems that cause you to avoid using the phone ought to count, but I don’t know if they think that, and I don’t know how much they investigate.)
- There are probably other options along these lines that I don’t know about. If anyone knows of good options, please comment or send an ask.
Use emailed videos
- Maybe they could email you videos instead of emailing you emails?
- Then you could watch them more slowly and repeat stuff
- Like video email more than video chat
- And then you could maybe respond in the way that’s easiest for you, which might be text
Short version: Keeping in touch with friends can be hard when you have competing access needs for forms of communication over long distances. There are some options. Scroll up for details.
Anyone else want to weigh in? What have you found works for long distance communication between people who find speaking easier and people who find speech difficult to understand?