If you have hearing loss, dining out can be a stressful experience. Many people with hearing loss report that restaurants are one of the most difficult listening environments due to the combination of music, nearby conversations and clanging silverware. However, there are strategies to help you prepare for your evening out:
Research Restaurants in Advance
Many people turn to Yelp or other online resources to help them choose a new restaurant. You may not know that there are apps available specifically to help you find restaurants that are quiet. Soundprint and iHEARu are two crowdsourcing apps that feature loudness ratings for popular restaurants.
Request a Corner Table
Sitting at a table in the middle of a restaurant can make hearing your conversation partner difficult. When you check in with the host or hostess, request a table in the corner to avoid being surrounded by noise from other tables. Sitting with your back against the wall can help stifle distracting sounds behind you. Bonus tip: For dining in groups, request a round table so you can easily see everyone you want to talk to and so that voices will project toward the center of the group.
Décor makes a big difference when it comes to background noise. Restaurants with drapes, cushioned seats, and tablecloths will absorb sound better than open spaces with a lot of concrete, wood or glass. Many restaurants have photos of the venue on their websites that you can look at in advance.
Don’t Dine Out During Busy Hours
During busy hours when restaurants are full, you have to battle to hear over more conversations and silverware than you would during a slower time. Consider dining out on weekdays and before or after conventional mealtimes. Keep in mind, during slower hours there will be more table options available, and staff are more likely to accommodate to requests like turning down the music.
Advocate for Yourself
Hearing loss is an invisible condition, and restaurant staff cannot accommodate your needs unless you communicate what they are. They will be more than happy to make your dining experience as pleasant as possible!
Talk to your audiologist today to learn about options for treating your hearing loss and improving your quality of life.