Campaigners are calling on restaurants, cafes and pubs to turn down loud music to make eating out a more ‘pleasant’ experience for hard of hearing diners.
Charity Action on Hearing Loss has teamed up with anti-noise group Pipedown to ask the hospitality sector to quieten down.
Rather than imposing a ban on music, the team will help venues reduce noise from speakers and kitchens to lower than 50 decibels.
Gorki Duhra, a spokesperson for Action on Hearing Loss, told MCA’s sister title BigHospitality: “It’s a positive campaign. We really want to help the industry find ways to make restaurants sound better. I go in to certain pubs and bars now and I can’t hear myself think, and I’ve got perfect hearing.”
The campaign launches on 7 July, after which the team will approach some of the UK’s biggest high street chains such as Costa and Wagamama.
Venues will be urged to provide hearing loops and include more soft furnishings to absorb noise.
There are now 11m people in the UK living with deafness, hearing loss or tinnitus, according to an Action on Hearing Loss report.
The figure is predicted to rise to 15.6m by 2035 due to the country’s ageing population.
Duhra believes restaurants, pubs and cafes could be missing out on millions of diners by failing to consider the issue of noise.
He said: “There are certain restaurants in central London that me and my hard of hearing friend don’t go to because he can’t hear me as it’s so loud. A meal’s not just food, it’s a social thing.”
More than three quarters of people with hearing loss claim to have left a venue because it was too noisy, and the same amount would visit more hospitality venues if they were quieter.
“I don’t think restaurants want to turn away custom to people with hearing loss. There’s an economic argument,” said Duhra.
“We want the restaurant industry to grow while considering the one in six people in the UK who would not go back to a restaurant if it’s noisy.
“We want to make it more accessible. At the end of the day it’s all about enjoying your food, and that’s what we want to help people to do.”