Dining Out With a Hearing Loss
For those with a hearing loss, dinning out can be both challenging and exhausting so we have put together some suggestions to improve your experience.
Choose a Quiet Establishment: This may seem like an obvious first step, but it does require you to plan ahead. Ask friends and family for their recommendations of restaurants. Where are they able to hold conversations without competing with background noise? They will also be able to share their knowledge of places to avoid. A quick Internet search can often provide you with a few additional suggestions. If you are considering dining somewhere new, it can be helpful to call or stop by ahead of time to determine if it would be an appropriate location.
Request a Low Traffic/Quiet Table: Many restaurants have sections or tables that have significantly less traffic and noise. Making reservations in advance will help you to avoid being seated by the kitchen, main entrance, or bar.
Select the Best Seat: Choose a seat that allows you to face the person, or people, you will be speaking with. If you are dining with a group of people, sit across from the ones you would like to speak with most.
Good Lighting: When you rely on speechreading (lipreading) to understand what is being said, proper lighting will be essential for you to enjoy your dinner conversation. Request a table that is bright enough for you to do so.
Self-Advocate: Let the server know that you have a hearing loss as well as what you need while you are there. This could be a request to face you directly while speaking or to show you items on the menu rather than mentioning them verbally. Clarify anything you have heard but are not sure of. Improving communication with the staff will improve your dining experience.
Use your Technology: If you have hearing aids, cochlear implants, or any other device to assist you with communication, speak to your hearing health practitioner about the programs and accessories that are available to you in a restaurant setting.