Close to eight out of ten people have left a restaurant, café or pub early because of the noise, according to a new survey from Action on Hearing Loss.
The charity is today launching Speak Easy, a nation-wide campaign for a quieter dining experience.
The online poll that surveyed both people with and without hearing loss showed that 81% of respondents had difficulty holding a conversation because of the high level of environmental noise.
They were also united (91%) in saying that they will not make a return visit to a place where the noise levels were too high.
The high level of background noise, which includes noise made by other diners, noise from the kitchen and background music was also responsible for over a quarter (27%) of all respondents receiving the wrong order during a meal out.
The problem is exacerbated by recent interior design trends that have seen venues employ bold, sleek aesthetics with lots of hard surfaces and high ceilings, which have led to increased noise levels due to a lack of furnishings that absorb sound.
Paul Breckell, Chief Executive Action on Hearing Loss says:
‘Through our campaign we want to help the restaurant, café and pub industry to create a more welcoming dining experience for all customers. Whether you’re out for a meal with friends, or if you’re on a date, you should be able to enjoy it without having to repeat yourself, raise your voice or receive the wrong order due to high levels of background noise.
‘There are 11 million of people in the UK with hearing loss so financially, it’s a no-brainer for the industry to help make dining out even more enjoyable and accessible. Three-quarters of people believe that restaurants, cafés and pubs have become louder in the last five years and we look forward to working with the catering industry to help take noise off the menu.”
Tom Tanner, Sustainable Restaurant Association said: ‘Restaurants, pubs and cafes have a huge role to play at the very heart of their community and that means considering everyone’s needs, including the UK’s 11 million people with hearing loss. We will encourage all of our members and the industry as a whole to engage with the Speak Easy campaign, to ensure unnecessary noise doesn’t prevent anyone from enjoying eating out.’
The report’s companion guide, Speak Easy: How to improve the customer experience, details the following practical steps that restaurants, cafés and bars can take to reduce background noise:
- Turn down background noise – making it easier to hold conversations
- Have speaker free zones
- Provide designated quiet areas within a venue – customers would be assured of avoiding major background noise
- Add softer furnishings such as carpets and table cloths, or rubber-capped chair legs
- Implementing acoustic treatments, such as wall and ceiling panels, which are designed to reduce noise levels, either by absorbing or diffusing sounds. Acoustic treatments can be ‘retrofitted’ within existing venues, or incorporated into new builds
- Installing art panels which are types of wall or ceiling panels where a design of the client’s choosing is printed on the acoustic panel.
The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.
The site exists thanks to our supporters. Check them out below:
- Signature: Leading awarding body for BSL qualifications
- Ai-Media: Remote captioning. Find out 7 things deaf people want you to know!
- Bellman & Symfon: home alerting solutions
- Deaf Umbrella: sign language interpreting and communications support
- BSL Zone: TV programmes in BSL for the Deaf community
- Eyewitness Media: TV and film from a Deaf perspective
- Appa: Communication services for Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing people
- SignLive: Online video interpreting for Deaf people
- SignVideo: Instant BSL video interpreting online
- 121 Captions: captioning and speech-to-text services
- The National Theatre: Captioned and BSL accessible theatre in London
- Doncaster School for the Deaf: education for Deaf children
- Signworld: Learn BSL online!
- Action Deafness Communications: sign language and Red Dot online video interpreting
- BSLcourses.co.uk: Provider of online BSL courses
- Association of Notetaking Professionals: The professional body representing Electronic and Manual Notetakers
- Sign Solutions: communication support, training and translation
- InterpretersLive: On demand BSL video interpretation
- Hamilton Lodge School in Brighton: education for Deaf children
- Lipspeaker UK: specialist lipspeaking support
- Hearing Choices: Australian hearing aid specialists
- Elmfield School, Bristol: Inclusive education for Deaf pupils
- deafPLUS: BSL advice helpline
- Exeter Deaf Academy: education for Deaf children
- Royal Shakespeare Company: Captioned and BSL interpreted performances (see dates here)
- Royal School for the Deaf, Derby: Residential education for deaf children
- RAD Tax Advice: Tax and Tax Credit info for Deaf people
- Performance Interpreting: BSL interpreting at concerts
- National Deaf Children's Society: The leading charity for deaf children
- Signed Culture: Advocating for BSL access to arts and culture
- SignHealth: healthcare charity for Deaf people
- CJ Interpreting: communication support in BSL
- British Society for Mental Health and Deafness: Promoting positive mental health for deaf people