Speak Easy report

As part of our Speak Easy campaign, we’ve launched our new report calling on restaurants, cafés and pubs to reduce background noise. Speak Easy: Hearing the views of your customers makes the case to the industry that people with hearing loss – and many without – feel excluded when dining with their friends and family due to high levels of background noise.

Interior design trends in recent years have seen many venues employ bold, sleek aesthetics, with prominent use of hard surfaces and high ceilings. Stripped of furnishings that absorb sound, restaurants, cafés and pubs full of chattering customers and staff can become incredibly noisy, and the problem is only made worse by background music.

Dining out is a favourite way for many of us to socialise. Restaurants, cafés and pubs aren’t just places to eat and drink; they should be pleasant social spaces where we can have good conversations with friends and family. But for many of our survey respondents – and the 11 million people with hearing loss across the UK – dining out can mean feeling left out.

Download our full report

We have also published a partner guide, Speak Easy: How to improve the customer experience, which outlines a number of practical adaptations that venues can make to manage background noise levels and ensure they’re fully accessible to people with hearing loss.

Download our guide

Key findings

The 1,461 people who completed our survey told us that background noise is a major and growing problem for people with hearing loss when they eat and drink in restaurants, cafés and pubs. The vast majority of respondents without hearing loss also identified background noise as a key concern.

  • 79% of people have left an establishment early because it was too noisy.
  • Nine out of ten people said background noise is the biggest problem they face when eating out.
  • 77% of people believe venues have become noisier in the past five years.

Customers are no longer putting up with noisy restaurants, cafés and pubs.

  • 91% of people said they wouldn’t go back to a venue where noise levels were too high.
  • 35% write reviews, on websites like TripAdvisor, after dining out – with half of these mentioning high noise levels.

But restaurants, cafés and pubs willing to work with us to become more accessible could see lots of new customers coming through their doors.

three out of 4 people would visit restaurants more if volume was lower

Our recommendation

Background noise is getting worse. People with hearing loss are finding it more and more difficult to enjoy restaurants, cafés and pubs with friends and family, while many people without hearing loss struggle to hold a conversation in these increasingly noisy environments.

That’s why we’re asking restaurants, cafés and pubs – particularly those receiving complaints about high noise levels – to get in touch.

We can help venues to:

  • identify practical changes they can make, without compromising on aesthetics
  • promote their new accessibility to people with hearing loss.

Download our full report

Download our guide