Dining out at a favorite restaurant with family, friends and business associates should be an enjoyable experience, but hearing loss can make it more frustrating than pleasurable.
Background noises are in full effect at most dining establishments. The chatter of other diners, music on the sound system, the clanging of silverware on plates, and sounds from the kitchen can all make it more difficult to focus on the desired conversation at your table.
The dining trend toward minimalist, industrial spaces has not been kind to those with hearing loss. Bare floors, high ceilings, and sparse use of fabric such as curtains or tablecloths mean all those sounds are just bouncing around the room. Speech can become almost impossible to hear unless the person is speaking directly into your ear.
Fortunately, taking some simple measures can greatly improve your chances of hearing what the person sitting across the table is saying. Audio Help Hearing Centers offer the following tips to improve your listening experiences at restaurants:
- Do your hearing homework: Research restaurants on your list to find out which ones are the most conducive to having conversations. Google the restaurant name and “noise” to see if reviewers mention sound levels – it’s distracting for both diners with and without hearing loss. For new places, check online for photos to see if it uses any noise-reducing features like acoustic tile panels, carpeting, curtains or booths.
- Pick a table in a prime location: Ask for a table away from noisy spots such as the entrance, kitchen, busing station and bar. If located on a busy street, patio dining can be louder than indoor tables.
- Let technology help: Many newer hearing aids will connect wirelessly with your smartphone, which can be used as a microphone to send speech directly to your ears. Place your phone between you and the person you want to hear for a better listening experience.
- Select your seat carefully: All seats at a table are not created equally when it comes to hearing. You may find it preferable to sit with your back to the wall to keep all of the noise in front of you. Others may find that having their back to the rest of the restaurant – particularly with the use of a directional microphone – works better for them.
- Keep your party small: It will be easier to converse with everyone in your party if it’s not spread out over a long table. Keeping your group small allows you to maintain eye contact and keep up with the conversation as it progresses from topic to topic.