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Are objective measures of room acoustics related to older adults’ subjective perceptions of acoustical comfort in eating establishments (EEs)?

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  • The domains of acoustic accessibility and comfort play an important role in the overall accessibility of public spaces, particularly for the elderly population and those with hearing loss. Previous research has examined the relationship between objective measures of room acoustic properties (e.g., sound pressure levels) in EEs and subjective measures of acoustical comfort to better understand the factors that impact accessibility for those who frequent public spaces. However, the focus of many of these studies has been on the experiences of younger adults. The goal of the present study was to therefore examine the relationship between objective measures of room acoustics and subjective measures of acoustical comfort in both younger and older adults. Fifty-one patrons across three restaurants completed a survey, which reflected the degree of acoustic comfort they had experienced while dining in the EE. Sound pressure level measurements were made using the “Decibel Meter Pro” application. The hypothesis that the acoustic conditions of the EEs would affect younger and older adults differentially was not supported as there were no differences in subjective measures between groups. The researchers suspected that older adults who are bothered by background noise may not frequent EEs. The sound measurements obtained were also in an acoustically acceptable range, as louder EEs did not agree to partake in this study. Future studies would benefit from including a wider range of EEs with louder environments.

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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International