Even if you don’t dine out often, it’s fun to celebrate friends’ and family members’ birthdays or your anniversary with a night out and some fabulous fare. If you’re living with hearing loss, heading to a restaurant on a Friday or Saturday night is probably not ideal because the hustle and bustle – though they give the place a certain special ambience – can make it quite loud. People of any hearing ability can struggle to hear in the busiest restaurants during weekend dinner hours. Since you can’t bring your captioned telephone with you, here are some device-free hearing loss solutions for managing your hearing loss while at a restaurant:

Dine early if possible
If you don’t mind eating a little earlier (but still within normal dinner hours), make reservations for an earlier time. On a Friday night, restaurants tend to be at their busiest around 7:00 p.m. If you’re reservation is at 5:00 p.m. or timed so that your meal will be served at about 5:00, you’ll likely be in the clear. Or if breakfast is your favorite meal anyway, plan a celebratory brunch complete with mimosas.

Location, location, location
Where you sit in the restaurant is very important for how much you’ll be able to hear. Upon entering the restaurant, you can let the hostess or host know that you would prefer to sit away from the kitchen, the cashier and any other high traffic areas, like near restrooms or entryways, which typically tend to be much louder than other areas of the restaurant. If you let the host or hostess know that you have difficulty hearing, he or she is likely to also avoid placing you near particularly raucous groups. Ask for a small booth with some privacy or a table by the window where you won’t have to deal with diners on all sides of your table.

Seating options
Consider another locational element to help maximize the hearing you do have. If you use hearing aids with directional microphones, it might be best to try to sit where the majority of the noise is behind you. If you do not use hearing aids, try to sit in a booth or where a wall is to your back to eliminate or minimize noise from behind.

Lighting
To create a cozy ambience, many fancy restaurants have dim lighting and use candlelight at the tables. If you rely on speechreading, this might be problematic for you. One quick fix is to ask the waiter for more candles. The ambience will still be nice and you will now be able to see your partner or guests more easily.

Call ahead
Some restaurants play music during dinner or have live music. Check in with restaurants before you dine to make sure they do not have live music, or ask to be seated away from a speaker. It’s good to know ahead of time so you can plan to choose a different venue.

Dining with a group can additionally be difficult. However, enjoy the company of the people nearest you and move around to chat if you wish.

If being able to enjoy a nice meal out is important for your wellbeing, follow the above tips to ensure that your experience is a great one.

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