Being an inclusive wedding and event professional doesn't only mean being inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community. There are so many ways to be inclusive and today I want to talk to you about being inclusive of disabled people. Specifically, I have five tips to make your event more inclusive of hard-of-hearing or deaf guests!
Disabilities are Diverse
If you look at me, you might not think I have a disability, but not all disabilities are visible and disabilities come in many shapes and forms. I'm hearing-impaired and I wear hearing aids in both ears. I hear nine percent of sounds in one ear and 25 percent of sounds in the other. When I can't hear what people are saying, I feel isolated and alone. It's tiring to continue to ask people to repeat themselves so often, so I just smile and nod because I'm exhausted.
When people like me attend events, there are ways you can be accomodating. And since you might not know if a hearing-impaired person is attending your event, I recommend you just do these things anyway. Here are five tips to make your event more inclusive of hard-of-hearing or deaf guests.
5 Tips for Inclusivity
Mic up your couple for their vows and have mics for toasts and speeches. Everyone who came to the wedding desperately wants to hear what's being said, and not everyone speaking is an expert at projecting their voice.
2. ASL Interpreter:
If you anticipate deaf people at the event you’re planning, plan for a sign-language interpreter at the altar and at the reception for vows, speeches, performances, and announcements from the DJ or band.
3. Clear Masks:
Having a socially distanced event during the pandemic? Offer clear masks to the guests so people who are deaf and hard of hearing can read the lips of everyone else.
Playing a video during the reception? Add captions so we can enjoy the show too.
5. Communicate in advance:
Ask your couple ahead of the event if there are any hard-of-hearing or deaf guests who need special accommodations and offer them (and their guests!) a reserved seat in the front row of the wedding so they don't miss a single word.
There are easy steps we can each take to make sure that our events are inclusive of all guests and provide the best and most accessible experience for all!
Looking for an ASL interpreter, check out the ADA National Network!
Hero photo courtesy: Steven Steinhardt