by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition
This report from the United Kingdom discusses expensive new headphones which can help someone understand conversations in a noisy restaurant.
This is the wrong answer to the restaurant noise problem.
Why should someone have to spend £400–about $530 at current exchange rates–just to be able to understand a conversation in a restaurant in London?
The right answer is making restaurants quieter, by reducing background music levels and adding sound-absorbing materials, so everyone can have a conversation without straining to speak or to be heard.
Noisy restaurants are a major disability rights issue for those with hearing loss, tinnitus, and hyperacusis. And it is an important issue for older Americans, many of whom have significant (25-40 decibel) hearing loss.
I will be speaking about the problem of restaurant noise at the December 2017 meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in New Orleans.