What to look for in a restaurant when you have hearing loss

By Dr. Anne Simon

September 19, 2016

When we see patients who are purchasing hearing aids, one of the questions we ask is how important it is to them that they be able to hear in noisy environments. Some of our patients are invigorated by time out with friends. Some of our patients prefer quiet walks along the river with their dogs.

The technological advancements of today’s hearing aids provide outstanding management of noisy situations. Still, if you or a dear one has hearing loss, here are a few tips to look out for when choosing a restaurant.

  1. Look for “classic” decor. Softer surfaces better absorb ambient sound: curtains, carpet, cushioned seats, and table cloths. There has been a stylistic trend for restaurants to aim for a sleeker look: harder surfaces, wood, glass, wood flooring. While this may be more visually appealing, it will make the space noisier because sound bounces off hard surfaces.

  2. Ask the restaurant for a quiet space. And make the request early. A little advanced planning can be helpful for you and the restaurant staff. Many restaurants have spaces that are quieter. Don’t hesitate to remind them if they call to confirm your reservation. Even remind them when you show up for your meal. Polite persistence pays off.

  3. Request a table in the corner or a booth with high backs. In a noisy environment, small changes can make a big difference. One advantage of a corner table or a high back booth, is that you can keep your back to the room and have less visual distraction. Keeping eye contact with your friends will make it easier to understand them. And having less activity over their shoulder will make it easier for you to keep your attention on them.

  4. Ask around. Ask your friends with hearing loss what restaurants work best for them. Fortunately, you are not the first one that has had to tackle this problem. Some of our friends enjoy the ‘searching’ as much as we enjoy the ‘finding.’

Happy dining.

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