Hearing loss has an uncanny ability to isolate those it afflicts. It takes aim at one of life’s truest joys -- communication and connection -- and introduces a host of complications. Your friend rings you up for a night out at the local and instead of looking forward to a great time with pals, you’re filled with anxiety. Pubs and restaurants can present a unique challenge for those affected by hearing loss. They require a great deal of listening effort in order to overcome background noise. While for many, they’re a place to relax and settle in, people with hearing loss tend to expect a much different experience. There are a few ways you can prepare in order to make sure your time at the pub or restaurant is a laugh instead of feeling like unnecessary work.
As often as possible, seek out pubs and restaurants with a cosy, intimate decor. Soundproofing features like carpeting, low ceilings, and wood paneling can do wonders for preserving conversation. Your friends might wonder at your newfound affection for ‘retro decor,’ but your auditory system will say cheers!
Seating can really eliminate quite a bit of background noise, so make sure to choose a table near a wall or corner. These architectural attributes eliminate a great deal of the interfering background noise coming from other patrons and staff. With the sounds behind you removed, you can now concentrate on what you’re really out for: catching up with your companion.
If you’re unsure about the features at the spot you’re heading out to, check out some online reviews. Reading these reviews is a great way to get some insight into your destination’s ambiance. You’re not alone in having to factor hearing loss into your dining decisions. In fact, odds are that plenty of reviews will note whether the noise level was conducive to conversation, which is a great indicator of whether you should keep your plans intact.
If you’re fortunate enough to be dining with a close pal or partner, they’ll already be on board with seeking out a quiet place and they’ll also likely be prepared to modulate their own voice to create the easiest conversation possible. If they’re a new friend or an acquaintance you’re just getting to know, don’t be shy about referencing your own hearing difficulties from the start. Disclosing your hearing loss can be an uncomfortable behaviour at first, but it eventually turns into a familiar habit. It’s just another thing about you, neither good nor bad.
While a group dining or drinking outing holds a particular challenge, it too can be navigated like a pro. Crosstalk across the table can be difficult, so if you have a say in the seating arrangements, try to snag a circular table. That way, everyone has a front seat and you’ll have a full view of everyone’s faces. That way, it’s easier to read facial expressions and nonverbal body language in order to make group conversations much easier to follow.
If you’re still lagging, you can always call in the troops. Make a joke of it and ask the person seated next to you to be your ‘translator’ for the evening. They’ll get the added bonus of spending a few hours helping someone out.
Having a night at the pub or a meal at your favourite restaurant is too precious to be stolen by hearing loss. Let your needs known to your companions so that they can be taken into consideration. No one in your life wants to make this a more stressful experience, and telling others how to add some ease into your life is also a brilliant way to take back your control from hearing loss.
Speak to the staff at the pub or restaurant you’re heading to, either beforehand or when you arrive, and let them know what your needs are. The hospitality industry is built to be accommodating. Whenever possible, they’ll try to suit your needs. Ask to be seated in that quiet corner or alongside that wall or at the circular table. It might add onto your wait time, but your entire experience might be just that much more enjoyable.
House of Hearing offers hearing care at five centres in Edinburgh, Galashiels, Perth, Morpeth, and St Andrews. Call us on 0131 220 1220 for more information.