Listening environments

As well as your degree of hearing loss and the performance of your hearing aids, the environment you’re in can have a big impact on how well you are able to hear. 
Rooms with hard solid walls make it more difficult to hear, as sound reflects off the walls and echoes around the room (reverberation).
Rooms that have plenty of soft furnishings, carpets and curtains absorb sound energy – so the sound will seem less harsh, making it easier for you to hear.

Some environments that you might find it easier to listen in:

• The living room or bedroom at home.  These rooms often have lots of soft furnishings.
• Libraries – by their nature, these tend to be quiet places, and the shelves full of books cut down the reverberation.
• Some offices have carpeting and felt-covered dividers.

Examples of environments in which it’s not so easy to listen:

• Kitchens – there are usually lots of hard surfaces in kitchens (worktops, units and tiled floors etc). There can also be confusing background noises such as a dishwasher or washing machine.
• Bathrooms – as with kitchens, bathrooms generally have lots of hard surfaces.
• Workshops and garages – for similar reasons.
• Restaurants – particularly ‘minimalist’ designs with hard walls and furnishings.

You may be able to ‘improve’ the acoustics of rooms at home. For example, if you find it difficult to hear in your kitchen because it’s too noisy and/or reverberant, you could try the following tips:

• Use a thick tablecloth or place mats on the table.
• Lay soft floor covering rather than hard tiles or wood blocks.
• Check that moveable items such as chairs and tables have rubber or felt pads where they contact the floor.
• Hang soft curtains/blinds (always being safety conscious of course, to avoid the risk of fire).

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