We not only eat to sustain ourselves but to connect to others. Eating is often a social event, sharing food, recipes, and ideas. In fact, research from the University of Oxford shows that when people often share meals together, they are more likely they are to feel happy and satisfied with their lives. When the COVID 19 pandemic temporarily closed many eat in restaurants, it created a void where people used to connect. However, with vaccinations and dropping numbers many people are enjoying connecting in public at restaurants again.
Issues with Hearing in a Restaurant
In addition to the food and environment, restaurants present an exciting place to enjoy food together and connect. For those with hearing loss this opens up a new host of issues. For many, returning to noisy restraints may present struggles with hearing previously not realized or acknowledged. Restaurants, though, are notoriously challenging places for those of us who use hearing aids or have untreated hearing loss. Restaurants are ripe with competing conversations, music playing, the banging of dishes and cooking from the kitchen. This can be a nightmare for people with hearing loss and make an otherwise enjoyable time frustrating and exhausting. The good news is that thanks to a new app, your issues with hearing could be avoided.
Most of us these days have Smartphones to help us not only talk on the phone but to check social media, use GPS, and to even find new and exciting restaurants nearby. This is where SoundPrint comes in. Designed and built by New York resident, Gregory Scott Farber, who has dealt with hearing loss since childhood, SoundPrint is designed to track and identify restaurants for their average noise level. This gives users the ability to find the best restraint to help them be able to follow conversations and interact with ease with an without hearing aids. While the popular app Yelp reviews the service environment and quality of food, SoundPrint ranks restaurants by noisiness.
Since its inception in 2018, SoundPrint has spread far beyond New York City, compiling a decibel-based database of cafe and restaurant noise levels in over 2000 cities. The App is user driven, allowing people to contribute using an in-phone meter that determines the ambient decibels of different eateries, cafés and restaurants which others can access.
Sharing information from Yelp, users can find delicious food and with reliable quality of food and ambiance while using pin markers to track the average decibel level of different public eating spots at different times throughout the day.
Noise induced hearing loss is by far one of the most common causes of hearing loss and occurs when sound reaches unsafe listening threshold. The volume of sound, or the intensity is measured using decibels and any decibel which surpasses 85 dB can cause permanent hearing loss. While it takes 8 hours of constant exposure at 85 decibels for permanent damage to occur, as the decibels rise the time for damage to occur quickly shrinks. At 95 dB the time it takes for damage to occur is only 50 minuets. SoundPrint has an added offering of informing users if levels in a restaurant are high enough to contribute to lifelong hearing loss. This may be of particular interest to restaurant workers who may spend extended time in loud work environments.
Dining Tips for People with Hearing Loss
SoundPrint is an amazing resource for those with and without hearing loss who are looking for a quiet but public place to eat. However, you don’t need the app to protect your hearing. Many Smartphones now offer free apps to measure decibels in the ambient spaces you visit, so you can better understand the risk. If you do visit a busy restaurant and you feel you will have trouble hearing, request a table away from most of the commotion. Tables closer to the kitchen often cause more buzz, with constant foot traffic and clattering plates and silverware, so it’s best to sit further away if possible. Another tip is to or position yourself with your back to a wall. This will help dampen incoming noise from other diners so you can focus on your dining partners.
Schedule an Appointment Today
If you have recently found you are struggling to hear after a time in a noisy restaurant, it could signal an unaddressed hearing loss. Ideally you should attend annual hearing exams. Schedule one with us today!