Turn down the noise, please!
CHOOSING where to eat out can be complicated these days if you don't like sitting in cafes or restaurants where the background noise assaults your senses.
I sympathise with anyone hard of hearing who just wants to get out and enjoy life, wherever it takes you.
But why should they have to pick their way through the myriad of eating establishments to find those that recognise a meal doesn't have be accompanied by thumping music and loud voices combating a lack of acoustic absorption?
I enjoy going out for breakfast, lunch or dinner, to funky places where there are lots of different ages all enjoying trendy foods and even trendier décor.
Sharing a conversation with a mate, reading the newspaper while eating, sitting quietly enjoying the view or venue ambience are all things that make eating out just a bit more fun for me. But, loud music and minimalist fit-outs get me down every time.
This week's Hearing Awareness Week campaign is a chance for everyone to listen up, realise we all need to give those with, and without, a hearing problem a fair go and take action.
Perhaps we should take a leaf out of the campaign book of the UK's Action on Hearing Loss group which is targeting restaurants, cafes and pubs, encouraging them to create a welcoming environment for all and offering customers the chance to give these venues a thumbs up, or down, for their efforts.
Its researchers have found that 79% of customers, with and without hearing loss, are leaving venues early because of noise.
Taking action against noise should be constructive. Perhaps we should start by pointing out to the staff that the music is seriously affecting our enjoyment of their venue, so could they turn it down, at least until the eating hour is over.
Another idea is to suggest to the venue owner to introduce speaker-free zones, some furnishings that absorb sound and acoustic panelling.
I don't think any of these suggestions will significantly impact on the look of a place, and will certainly help to encourage return customers which are the life-blood of any venue.
If in the meantime you want to find out how good your hearing is, Australian Hearing is offering free hearing checks at places around Australia. To find out where, go to www.bigaussiehearingcheck.com.au.