5 Ways To Make Dining Out Easier With Hearing Loss
Looking forward to dining out now restaurants are back in business?
Background noise in restaurants and cafes can make conversation difficult. Here are five ways to make it easier for hearing implant users and other people who use hearing technology.
1. Plan Ahead
Identify a quiet venue. Restaurants with sleek hard floors, metal chairs, and lots of glass may look beautiful, but the noise will bounce around the room and make conversation hard to understand. Look for space between tables, soft chairs, tablecloths, and partition walls.
You can also use an app to help find a quiet restaurant (for example, Soundprint). If there are no entries near you in the app, ask if you can pop in at a time similar to your planned outing and take a sound level reading. Upload your measurement to help others.
2. Educate Staff and Companions
Inform restaurant staff about your hearing loss when you book and ask if they can minimize the background music during your meal. Explain that the music makes it difficult for you to hear the wait staff and understand conversation at your table. Confirm that the restaurant has a written menu that includes any specials.
If your companions are not familiar with hearing loss, take the time to explain yours and what would help you. For example, “I use a cochlear implant to hear. I find it helpful if you speak slightly slower and look at me while we talk so I can also use speech reading.”
Here’s a link to a resource to help you explain about your hearing loss and technology: See the final activity on page 13 of the resource ARK Who’s Who.
3. Choose the Right Position
A table near a wall will most likely be quieter as the noise will only come from one side. Avoid tables in the middle of the room. A booth can be a good option because noise is reduced by the barriers and absorbed by the seats.
Position yourself to make the most of your hearing technology, with your best ear towards your table companions. Ask your companions to sit with the best light on their faces and sit opposite to take advantage of speech reading.
4. Use Clarification Strategies
Practice using questions and statements to check you have understood the conversation or to gain more information. Here are a few to try:
- Key word: If you understood only one word in the sentence use it to seek more information; (e.g., Did you ask what I want to drink?)
- Sentence completion: If you understood most of the sentence but missed a piece of information; (e.g., You said your brother is now working at…)
- Simplify: When you missed everything of a long conversational turn; (e.g., I didn’t get all of that. Could you give me a simple summary.)
Read more about clarification strategies in this blog.
5. Embrace Technology
Make the most of your technology. Consider if your microphone cover needs replacing and carry spare batteries. Ask your audiologist about features of your devices that assist with sound management and noise reduction and learn how these work. Use your device remote to experiment with changes in settings and programs during the meal to find the best setting for hearing speech in that environment.
Use assistive listening technology such as AudioLink as remote microphones for the table or individuals. Remote microphones connect directly to your processor and minimize the effects of distance and noise. Learn more about how to best use AudioLink here.
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The content on this website is for general informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Please contact your doctor or hearing specialist to learn what type of hearing solution is suitable for your specific needs. Not all products, features, or indications shown are approved in all countries.