With summer comes wedding season and many chances to gather together with friends and family in celebration. But celebrating may be difficult for some wedding goers who live with mild to moderate hearing loss. Social environments can pose enough of a challenge already, but weddings may be particularly frustrating because so many important words are said that can be easily missed by someone with hearing loss.
What is supposed to be a joyous occasion can become very isolating and frustrating, especially when none of the important moments such as the ceremony, exchange of vows, toasts, and speeches can be heard by some of the guests. Exchanging of vows are already difficult to hear because nervous brides and grooms may feel hesitant to speak up, and for someone with hearing loss, hearing those vows becomes almost impossible.
Since 12% of the American population have some level of hearing loss, there’s a good chance you’ll have at least a handful of guests that may benefit from some proactive hearing promotion measures, especially if your wedding guest list is comprised of a good portion of older family members – 25% of those 65 or older have hearing loss.
What You Can Do
First thing to consider is your guest list. Who do you know has hearing loss and to what degree? Once you have the information you need, you can take appropriate measures. The simplest approach you can take is to make sure those guests are seated closest to the ceremony, and to the wedding party table at the reception.
Next, make sure all members of the wedding party are aware that they should speak clearly and at a decent volume (you don’t have to shout) to make sure those with hearing loss have ample opportunity to hear speeches and vows. If the ceremony is being conducted with a microphone, it may be worth making sure the bride and groom are picked up on the mic in addition to the wedding officiant.
Make sure your reception is well lit and conducive to clear communication. The darker a venue, the harder it is for wedding guests to see each other, and read lips if needed. If centerpieces are being used, make sure they are low so that there is no obstruction between speakers.
If you have members of your guest list who have profound hearing loss who sign, consider hiring a translator if it’s in your budget. Or perhaps, ensure that your guest is able to bring a hearing friend who signs and would be willing to translate.
Consider venues who provide loop systems to help amplify sound for those individuals with t-coils in their hearing aids. Or, some who live with hearing loss often benefit from the use of an FM system – a process wherein a mic is attached to a speaker and the signal is transmitted directly to the guest’s hearing aid.
Other options include captioning of music if hiring a DJ, and even hiring a transcriber, or offering the ceremony in print format so that a person with hearing loss can stay tracked with the ceremony.