Latest posts by Dr. Maria Wynens, Au.D. (see all)
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Going out to eat is a great way to try new food and connect with friends and family over a wonderful meal. Restaurants, though, are notoriously difficult spots for those of us who use hearing aids or have untreated hearing loss. Restaurants are often full of the noise of happy diners in conversation, backed by bustling waiters and the clatter of kitchen noises. For someone who has challenges when it comes to discerning speech, a restaurant can be a frustrating place, where an enjoyable conversation is drowned out by competing noises.
A new app for mobile devices is designed to help users find quiet restaurants. SoundPrint was built by Gregory Scott Farber, a New York resident who has lived with significant hearing loss since childhood. SoundPrint is designed for the user with hearing challenges and acts as a review app – but instead of reviewing food and service, it ranks restaurants by noisiness.
Since its inception, SoundPrint has been building a database of cafe and restaurant noise in over 2000 cities. App users can not only use the program to find a quiet spot to eat and enjoy company, they can contribute to the noise level data using an in-phone meter that determines the ambient decibels of a locale.
What began as a personal list of reliably quiet spots for Farber has been integrated into a flexible and growing app. The app also integrates with Yelp reviews to help users find a quiet spot with a reputation for great food and service. SoundPrint uses pin markers to show the user the average decibel level of nearby spots – or in any searchable area. The SoundPrint community just launched, so as the network of users grows, so will the working database of noise level reviews.Visit SoundPrint Website
Sound Level Safety
Measuring decibel levels is a good way to not only find a spot that is easy to hear at, it can protect your hearing from further damage. While noise thresholds have been codified for worker safety, there are few resources available to respond to an increasingly noise polluted world. The louder the sound level, the less time our hearing can tolerate it without sustaining damage. All sounds above 80 decibels start to pose an issue for human hearing.
At 85 decibels, noise causes permanent hearing harm after 8 hours of exposure. From there, the louder the noise the exponentially less our hearing can tolerate it. For an ambient noise level of 95 decibels, damage occurs after only one hour and at 105 decibels, at less than fifteen minutes. Finding a quiet restaurant makes dining easier for people with hearing concerns – and it also helps protect our existing hearing from hazardous noise.
Dining Tips for People with Hearing Loss
SoundPrint is a great resource to have in your pocket. Using and contributing to its database helps create a free resource for anyone who considers the noise environment of the places they go. Better still, the more people who use the app, the more helpful it becomes to others.
Even if you don’t have the app, there are still some things you can do to help your hearing in a restaurant. One easy tip is to request a table located far from the kitchen. Kitchens are often as noisy or noisier than a restaurant’s dining area, with constant foot traffic and clattering plates and silverware.
Similarly, if possible sit in a booth rather than at a table, or position yourself with your back to a wall. Booths and walls will dampen incoming noise from other diners and help you focus on your dining companions. Restaurants that have carpeting or textiles on the walls also help their hearing-challenged customers because this decor helps absorb sound, rather than sending it echoing through the space.
Atlanta Hearing Doctor
You don’t need an app to find the best hearing care in Atlanta, we’re right here! Atlanta Hearing Doctor is the city’s best resource for complete hearing healthcare. Our hearing specialists offer comprehensive testing and thorough, nuanced care. We love helping people connect with the best solutions for their hearing challenges and work with you to build pathways to healthy hearing. Is it time for your next hearing exam? Give us a call at Atlanta Hearing Doctor to set up an appointment today.