If your spouse or significant other has had hearing loss for some time, you might realize the challenges of dining out while living with hearing loss. But with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, you might be looking forward to treating your spouse to a romantic night on the town. Here are our ideas for planning to dine out when one or both people in your pair are living with hearing loss:

1. Research the venues.

It’s a good idea to choose a few restaurants that you know or have heard to have good food and a romantic vibe.

2. Contact the restaurants.

Talk to the owner or manager if you can. Let him or her know when you plan to come and explain that because your significant other has hearing loss, you have a few questions so you can help determine which is the best dining option for his or her needs. Here are some excellent questions to ask:

  • When is the busiest time at your restaurant?
  • What dinner hours are the quietest?
  • How would you describe your restaurant’s lighting – is it dim, for example lit by candles, or is it fairly bright?
  • Would you be able to accommodate us in a space away from the noisiest areas of the restaurant? The noisiest areas are usually by the kitchen or near the host or hostess area.
  • Does your restaurant play music? Would you be able to turn it down?

Most places will answer honestly and be happy to accommodate you the best that they can. Along with explaining that your spouse has hearing loss, it might help to explain that for people with hearing loss, it’s difficult to hear in places with a lot of background noise. You should also explain that good lighting is important because many people with hearing loss rely on speechreading, and thus they need to have visual access to their partner’s face.

3. Choose a restaurant.

Based upon what you’ve learned, make the best choice for you and your significant other.

4. Arrive early!

It’s a good idea to arrive early to make sure that any accommodations you have requested are in place. When they take reservations, most restaurants do not reserve you a specific table but just a spot in the restaurant. However, if you’ve made it clear ahead of time that your spouse needs to sit with his or her back against the wall to block out background noise, hopefully they’ll hold a specific table for you. Don’t forget to celebrate with champagne and chocolates!

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