Summertime often means weddings and a great deal of wedding planning. If you are planning a wedding, take the time to ensure it is accessible to all of your guests including those with a hearing impairment. Ask yourself, am I providing the same experience for my hard of hearing guests as I am for my other guests? It involves thinking about the best places to seat these guests so they can hear the proceedings. Can your hard of hearing guests hear the vows, speeches, and enjoy the social aspects of the wedding? With planning, you can create a wedding experience that is accommodating for all of your guests including those who have difficulty hearing.
As you go about planning your hearing-accessible wedding, keep a few things in mind. Think about the level of hearing loss to be accommodated. Some guests may have a mild hearing impairment while others might be severely impaired. A deaf guest will benefit from sign language for communication so consider hiring an ASL translator for the event.
Does the venue have a loop system installed? This system will help guests that have T-coil equipped hearing aids hear sounds directly from the PA system to their hearing aids while eliminating background noise. Also, try to ensure that your hearing impaired guests are seated up front instead of in the back.
Print the spoken parts of the ceremony such as the readings, vows, and speeches for those hard of hearing guests who request it. Give them the option to notify you when they RSVP if they would like a printed copy. It also helps to have a printed itinerary of the day’s events.
If you have guests who speak using ASL, hire an interpreter to sign the highlights or the entire ceremony. If your hearing impaired guests do not sign, consider hiring a CART professional to type out the proceedings in real time. The National Court Reporters Association maintains an online directory to assist you in finding an expert in your area.
You will probably be nervous but try to speak up when you recite those beautiful wedding vows! Loud, clear speech will undoubtedly help your guests who have hearing problems feel engaged in the proceedings.
Request low centerpieces that will enable all guests, including those who lip-read, to participate in the communication. Try to ensure that the venue has adequate lighting as your hearing impaired guests often rely on seeing others faces while communicating with them. When hiring a DJ, ask about the use of a loop system or consider a karaoke machine that projects lyrics. Place speakers on the ground so those guests who have difficulty hearing can feel the vibrations and enjoy the dancing.
If you have a wedding invitation and have hearing loss, don’t let this impairment stop you from enjoying the festivities. Consult a hearing healthcare professional today for a hearing evaluation and to assist you in finding the best treatment or device, so you do not have to miss the festivities.