The Association of Teachers of Lipreading to Adults (ATLA) said although this approach may not seem conducive to creating the right ambience for diners on a night out, it could help reinforce pubs’ community credentials and generate new business.
As part of Lipreading Awareness Week, taking place on 12-19 September, the association is asking licensees to choose a day to invite customers to ‘come and enjoy their taste in food, not their taste in music’.
In return, the ATLA will give participating pubs some basic deaf awareness training, a poster to display of their local lipreading class, and a press release template to send to local media.
ATLA’s vice-chair Molly Berry said: “Lipreading Awareness Week is a good time to ask yourself if your pub is welcoming this business. Getting it right could earn your business a lot of money, with nearly half of people aged 65-plus having some form of hearing loss.”
The problem people with hearing aids have is that their devices amplify sound, including background noise, which gets distorted by echo. The ATLA would like pubs and restaurants to introduce more soft furnishings: curtains, cushions and carpet or easy-to-clean rubber flooring. Alcoves, booths and room dividers can also help, and acoustic ceiling tiles are effective in making it easier to hear.
Good lighting is also important so lipreaders can see the face of the person speaking. Personal loop systems, which enable hearing aid users to hear just what is said within the range of the device, are available for a very reasonable cost.
“Many hard of hearing people avoid eating out because it’s just too difficult for them to follow conversations and pick out the sounds they want to hear,” said Berry.
“But minimum investment can fix this and make a much more pleasant environment for everyone.”
To take part and for further details email: LAW@atlalipreading.org.uk