Special Initiatives

Want to learn more about some of the innovative, exciting, and even fun projects that HASA has completed out in the community? Keep reading- and you will learn about Hearing Hospitality, SoundPrint, and the Baltimore Soundscape Project. These are just a few examples of initiatives that happen out in the community. We love venturing out into workplaces, schools, and community settings to connect people to their worlds.

 

Hearing Hospitality

Our partnership with La Cuchara launched the Hearing Hospitality initiative just in time for Baltimore’s Restaurant Week in 2018. Creating an inviting, accessible, and inclusive experience for guests is a priority for both organizations, which made the training time useful for everyone involved. The management and staff welcomed us to share tips about body language, seating, and taking both orders and reservations. The key is to ask the right questions and focus on communication.

The restaurant environment presents several communication challenges for individuals with affected hearing, including competing background noises, loud music, and poor lighting. These factors can make it difficult for individuals with hearing loss to interact with restaurant staff and other guests. Because 33% of adults over the age of 65 and half of adults over the age of 75 are hard of hearing, there are a large number of guests in a restaurant at any given time who could benefit from an enhanced environment.

“Hearing Hospitality” is an education and training program designed to help restaurant managers, hosts, servers, and kitchen staff accommodate guests who are hard of hearing. HASA will conduct training workshops at participating restaurants to educate staff on the challenges individuals face and share practical service tips for creating an inclusive dining experience.

 

SoundPrint

The Baltimore food scene now has another factor to consider when choosing where to dine: noise level. SoundPrint, known as the “Yelp for noise,” is a New York-based mobile application that partnered with Baltimore’s Hearing and Speech Agency (HASA) to launch the app’s data collection. The partnership seeks to serve the greater Baltimore community by providing the average decibel levels of a restaurant so customers can determine the best spots for conversation. Following a soft launch, the app is officially live.

Want to find a quiet restaurant, bar, or café where you can actually hear your date, colleague, client, or partner? Or a quiet place to study or relax? Or find a restaurant that is bumping with noise and excitement? Ever wonder if a place is too loud that it may be endangering your hearing? It can be very difficult to subjectively measure environmental noise. SoundPrint’s own decibel meter allows you to measure the sound level of a venue and submit (crowdsource) that data to the database. This is very useful for patrons, managers, and employees to monitor and protect their hearing from noise-induced hearing loss. https://www.soundprint.co/.

The app allows customers to use a real-time sound meter to take a 15-second reading of the decibel level of a restaurant or bar. The crowdsourced readings make up a sound profile for each venue. Users can filter restaurants based on how loud or quiet they are, much like you’d use filters to search for a restaurant on Yelp.

Several hundred sound readings were taken across neighborhoods in Baltimore following the app’s soft launch. This data makes up Baltimore’s “Quiet List” and “Loud List,” of individual restaurants, as well as the quietest and loudest neighborhoods. These lists follow below.

The following lists were curated using several hundred SoundPrint data captures taken during peak restaurant hours, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

The Quiet List – Quietest Restaurants in Baltimore

  1. Ban Thai Restaurant (N. Charles/Mt. Vernon)
  2. Dalesio’s (Little Italy)
  3. Himalayan Bistro (South Baltimore)
  4. Kiku Sushi (South Baltimore)
  5. Da Mimmo (Little Italy)
  6. Lumbini Restaurant (N. Charles/Mt. Vernon)
  7. La Tavola (N. Charles/Mt. Vernon)
  8. Ikaros (Greektown)
  9. Charleston Restaurant (Fells Point)
  10. Dooby’s (N. Charles/Mt. Vernon)

The Loud List – Loudest Restaurants in Baltimore

  1. House (Hampden)
  2. Holy Frijoles (Hampden)
  3. Homeslyce (N. Charles/Mt. Vernon)
  4. Rye Street Tavern (South Baltimore)
  5. Mick O’Shea’s (N. Charles/Mt. Vernon)
  6. Alexander’s Tavern (Fells Point)
  7. Papi’s Tacos (Fells Point)
  8. Clavel (Hampden)
  9. The Brewer’s Art (N. Charles/Mt Vernon)
  10. The Boathouse Canton Waterfront Grill (Canton)

Quietest Neighborhood for Dining in Baltimore: Little Italy (Quiet, avg. 63 dBA)

Loudest Neighborhood for Dining in Baltimore: S. Baltimore – Riverside/Fed Hill/Locust Point (Very Loud, avg. 81 dBA)

 

Other insights: 

  • Restaurants in Baltimore generally have Moderate noise-level until 8 p.m. when it transitions into Loud based on average dBA.
  • Initial data indicates Baltimore may be one of the most noise-friendly restaurant cities, but more robust data is needed to verify.


Decibel Guidelines 

  • Quiet = 70 dBA or below (safe for hearing health, conducive to conversation)
  • Moderate = 71 – 75 dBA (safe for hearing health, manageable for conversation)
  • Loud = 76 – 80 dBA (likely safe for hearing health, conversation is difficult)
  • Very Loud = 81+ dBA (unsafe for hearing health, conversation is very difficult)

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