Is dining out one of your favorite pastimes? Do you often find restaurant noise levels distracting to the point that it prevents you fully engaging in the experience? If yes, we have some tips for dining out with hearing loss to help.
A recent study by Zagat showed that when it comes to dining out, it’s not the food that gets the highest volume of complaints. In fact, the most common complaint (with 24% of the votes) was the noise levels. If you have a hearing loss, excessive noise in a restaurant can make the experience of dining out less pleasurable and frustrating. There are, however, some simple ways to help you enjoy your experience dining out.
Noise in popular dining venues has led to the creation of a great smartphone application called ‘Soundprint’. Users of the app are constantly compiling a database of quiet spots such as cafe’s, restaurants and more. The app allows you to search for a venue based on real customer feedback and decibel readings. You can also add your own feedback to help grow the database even larger.
Researching the venue you plan to dine in is a great first step towards ensuring an enjoyable dining experience. Read customer reviews and check out the photos online. Concentrate on the decor, avoid large open spaces with high ceilings, large television screens or hard floorings. Instead, look for the less contemporary adornings of carpet, curtains, table dressings, cushioned chairs, corner booths, outdoor patios and plants etc. These can all help to absorb sound, thereby providing a quieter environment.
Get a sense of how well lit the space is. Better lighting makes reading lips or seeing facial cues easier.
When making a reservation for your meal, aim for…
When you make your meal reservation, we recommend that you highlight your requirements. If this isn’t possible, you can outline your requirements upon arrival, but to ensure that your requirements are met, it’s best to sort them in advance!
Ask to be seated further away from the kitchen, bar, entrance and serving station. Center tables are often the loudest. Where possible, opt for seating on perimeter, booths with high backs or corner tables are ideal. When seated, sit in the middle of your group.
Don’t be afraid to mention if your table or the background music is too loud when you arrive.
Be upfront about your hearing difficulties with both your companions and the waiter/waitress. Politely ask them to face you and speak clearly and slowly. Ask if they have a printed list of the specials.
Finally, be sure to use the available features on your hearing aids to help you. Adjust the settings accordingly for background noise and conversation. Consider your type of hearing aid device, it may be best to sit with your back to the wall, unless you have a directional microphone and then it’s best to sit with your back to the noise.
Maintaining a healthy social life can help keep you active and less prone to feelings of isolation. Seeking professional advice and treatment for a hearing loss can boost your confidence, making socialising more accessible. Call us on (212) 786-5741 if you have any questions or to book in your next hearing assessment.
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