A Recipe for Commotion - Hearing and Speech Agency

A Recipe for Commotion

A Recent article in The Atlantic, entitled How Restaurants Got So Loud explores the ways in which current minimalist architectural design has replaced the plush opulence of the past. In the words of the article’s author, Kate Wagner, "it's a recipe for commotion.” The article is a welcome addition to the conversation about harmful noise levels in restaurants. For individuals who are hard of hearing, design choices are causing more than just a loud night out. The design of many popular restaurants is leading this population to avoid dining out altogether.

At HASA, we've seen the impact of this issue in our community firsthand. People who are hard of hearing frequently turn down invitations to eat out because they know the experience will be more frustrating than enjoyable.

In response, we teamed up with restaurants in Baltimore and Washington, DC to launch a Hearing Hospitality initiative, with the goal of creating an inclusive space for all individuals to enjoy a good meal and conversation. We educate restaurant staff on the challenges guests might face and equip them with service tips and strategies. One of our tips—offer booth seating to limit noise bouncing off hard surfaces—speaks to the design issue referenced in the article. Unfortunately, many restaurants don’t have these options, creating a barrier for individuals with hearing challenges.

In addition, a corps of HASA volunteers took to the streets to measure sound levels for themselves, using Soundprint, an iOS app to measure decibel readings in restaurants. Thanks to the work of those volunteers, Soundprint has published a quiet list for Baltimore. The information is constantly evolving; you can use the app for yourself when you’re out with friends and family.  

All of us at HASA are eager to see designs and technology evolve to accommodate this issue—and for more restaurants to include these considerations as part of their strategic planning and customer experience training.

For more information about the Hearing Hospitality program, or to learn more about HASA's efforts to improve the impact of environmental noise, email us today.

HASAHarry and Jeanette Weinberg Building 5900 Metro Drive Baltimore, MD 21215 410.318.6780