What I Hear

Life with hearing loss

Dining Out

Eating out is fun, but don't expect to have much conversation. Read More

Glad to have found your column

I´m so glad to have found your column! I had a sudden partial hearing loss last fall and have found dining out to be very un-nerving. In fact, I recently had my first experience where, after having the cashier repeat himself 4 times, I realized I was simply not going to be able to understand him. Such an odd feeling. It was a restaurant with lots of ambient noise and lots of tile, glass and metal but no curtains, tablecoths, or carpet.

I can´t wait to try your tips! Especially about having my good ear facing the wall. It seems counter-intuitive. I am learing so much from reading your experiences. There is so much that I don´t know about hearing loss. It´s nice to have you as a sort of guide as I enter this new way of being. I can´t wait to read your new book!

Thank you,


I only recently realized that my irritability in large groups and noisy restaurants and stores stemmed from work-related hearing loss (I am only 24). I cannot pick out voices very well anymore, especially those with lower-range voices.

I can't wait to try out your tips to see if this can help offset some of my increasing hatred of going out!


New York now has inspection

New York now has inspection ratings - A through D. Why can't we also have noise ratings L/M/H?

Or how about Zagat's adding a 5th rating box for noise? Surely noise is as much a factor as Decor, which they already rate.

Noise ratings

Great suggestion from Wendy.
A new Zagat category (noise is the #2 complaint to Zagat).
I'd suggest
L (Loud), M (moderate), and Q (quiet).

Also a good idea about health department inspections. New York City does have noise ordinances, rarely enforced.

Noise ratings

I like Loud, Medium and Quiet.

When the building across the street was under construction, I called 311 a number of times when work started before dawn. Although the information was taken down, there was no response and no follow up.

Then again, when the building was finished and people started moving in all at once, the moving vans, construction trucks, etc, would start idling at 5 in the morning. No luck again from 311, but I did walk over to the building's main desk. Got an apology, and the idling stopped. Gives me inspiration that something can be done about noise!

Noise in restaurants

There are some very good apps for measuring sound levels and luminosity - for those of us who also have difficulty reading the menu in poorly lit restaurants.

For me the sound level is the reason I would not return to a restaurant. You have to be careful at what time the level is measured. Early evening might be fine but as the restaurant fills so level of background noise increases.

Katherine - really like the book.

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Katherine Bouton, a former editor at The New York Times, is the author of Shouting Won't Help: Why I—and 50 Million Other Americans—Can't Hear You.


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