Individuals with hearing loss have particular difficulty communicating in environments with excessive background noise, such as busy restaurants. Rather than face the prospect of trying to enjoy a good meal while dealing with competing conversations, clanging silverware and dishes and distracting music, many choose to skip the experience altogether. But you don’t have to consign yourself to a lifetime of meals at home; there are strategies you can employ to help you enjoy dining out at your favorite restaurant on occasion.
The following tips will help ensure a positive restaurant experience for those with hearing loss:
Choose a booth over a table. Tables are typically situated in the middle of the room, and offer little respite from noise. Try calling ahead and requesting a booth if available.
Don’t sit near the kitchen. Regardless of whether you end up with a booth or table, try to avoid being seated near the kitchen or bar. These high-traffic areas tend to be the noisiest.
Avoid sitting near the loudspeaker or air conditioner. A comfortable temperature and ambient music are essential to the dining experience, but sitting too close is sure to prove distracting. If you are being steered in this direction, ask your host or hostess if they can seat you elsewhere.
When dining with a group, position yourself in the center of the table. This ensures you are able to hear all parts of the conversation without straining to hear somebody at the opposite end.
Maintain eye contact with the person who is speaking. Paying close attention to visual cues can help improve your understanding in noisy environments.
Check out the menu before you go. Preparing in advance by previewing the menu on the restaurant’s website will ensure you know the different types of food available and how it is prepared, so you won’t misunderstand or have to ask the server to repeat him- or herself. If the restaurant has daily specials available, these are usually posted in the waiting area or on a menu supplement; if not, ask for a written copy.
By following these tips, you are likely to have a positive dining experience. You might even be tempted to hang around for dessert!