The restaurants your friend with hearing loss will love

Who doesn’t love a good meal out? Well, the sad truth is for people with hearing loss, following conversation amid background noise in a restaurant can be such a strain that they’ll avoid going out altogether. 

Well, it doesn’t have to be like that. Whether you’re organising a romantic date, a work Christmas party or a long-overdue catch up with a friend who has hearing loss, follow our top tips to choose a venue and you can rest assured the only thing they’ll be worried about is what to choose from the menu. 

1) Check out the decor

OK, you’re not just looking at aesthetics here, you’re checking for d├ęcor that’s hearing-friendly. Carpets, upholstery and plants all help to absorb sound, while tiled floors, concrete, glass or steel will send soundwaves bouncing all over the place. Think ‘soft’.

2) Check the entertainment schedule

While a restaurant may be quiet during the week, you don’t want to turn up on Friday night to find they have a heavy metal band playing. Have a chat with the staff when you book. You can also make sure they know you need a quiet table (see our next tip).

3) Find the perfect position

You’re looking for a quiet spot, ideally in the corner or at least against a wall where there’s less background noise. It’ll also need to be well-lit, as it’s a lot easier for people with hearing loss to understand what others are saying if they can see their face clearly.

4) Consider going al-fresco

In some restaurants outdoor areas are the quieter option as noise has more space to dissipate and there’s generally less background music. Just watch out for any other potential noise sources, like busy roads close by or children’s playgrounds.

5) Get your timing right

Think about booking earlier or later than the usual crowds and you’ll get in while the restaurant’s a bit quieter. You may find even the music is at a lower volume at these times, though don’t be shy to ask staff to turn it down anyway.

6) Share your new-found knowledge

Found the dream venue? Share it with your friends. One in six Australians has hearing loss so there are plenty of people who’ll be grateful for the recommendation.1

1Access Economics (2017), The Social and Economic Cost of Hearing Loss in Australia, June 2017, commissioned by the Hearing Care Industry Association (HCIA).