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Initiative To Aid Those Hard Of Hearing Launches Ahead Of Baltimore Restaurant Week

BALTIMORE (WJZ)-- A new initiative to educate servers and hosts is aimed at helping people with hearing difficulties while they dine out.

Organizers decided to launch the Hearing Hospitality Initiative ahead of Baltimore Restaurant Week, which is typically the busiest time.

Dining out can be a noisy experience. It often discourages those with hearing challenges from going out.

"Individuals who are 65 and over about two-thirds of them have hearing loss, and only about one-third of that population has any assisted hearing technology so this is a big issue that affects a lot of people, said HASA executive director Erin Stauder. "We are not looking to change the fun vibrant energetic environment of any restaurant, we are looking to provide resources and strategies so guests who are hard of hearing can actively participate."

HASA, a hearing and speech agency, is conducting onsite training for restaurants, starting with La Cuchara in Baltimore.

"Making sure people feel at home as much as possible and take care of anyone who walks through the door," said La Cuchara manager Michael Farece.

HASA recommends seating those with hearing difficulties in areas with soft seating to minimize the interference.

"Make sure always make eye contact, for that with everyone but definitely want to make sure to repeat back I really like the tip about rewording how you say things to give them an attention point," bartender Matt Supik said.

"Making sure if they do explicitly tell us they're hard of hearing, that gets translated from the front door to the server, and make sure it's executed properly," Farece said.

HASA hopes to work with other restaurants to provide the training. They encourage businesses to contact them if they're interested.

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