How To Make Your Wedding Hard-of-Hearing Friendly
Weddings, like many events, are happy occasions. They’re a chance to celebrate love, new beginnings, and uniting two families. Many families include those with hearing loss, so making the wedding accessible for them is an important part of planning the event. While you can’t solve every potential problem, you can eliminate the ones that are most likely to ruin a hard-of-hearing (HoH) guest’s experience.
Whether you’re preparing for an elderly guest with hearing aids, or someone well-versed in sign language and lipreading, there are quite a few ways you can make your wedding friendly for people with hearing loss.
Knowing Your Guests
Different guests have different needs. Making accommodations for a HoH guest is no different than preparing meat-free food for a vegetarian one. Many wedding planners and couples will ask ahead to see if any of their guests have food allergies, special diets, or other needs. Adding a few questions for guests with hearing loss is just as easy. With that information, you can prepare more effectively.
For example, a guest with hearing aids might have very different needs than one that uses sign language or lipreads. Where one might not mind loud noises or heavy music, the one with hearing aids will have a difficult time having fun in a loud, chaotic environment. Ask your HoH guests what you can do to prepare for them. They might have tips or requests on how to make the event more enjoyable for them.
Not to mention, asking these questions is a sign that you care. Some planners don’t consider the idea that people with hearing loss might attend their event. That leaves gaps in their planning where HoH people fall through, limiting their enjoyment and making it frustrating for them to have a good time. Asking ahead is a great way to get the full picture, so you can begin crafting a wedding that every guest will remember fondly.
Tips for Planning A HoH-Friendly Wedding
If you’re not sure where to start with your HoH-friendly planning or just want to make sure your bases are covered, here are some common problems for guests with hearing loss — and how you can preemptively solve them.
- Circular seating. Circular seating allows for more involved group conversation, even for those without hearing loss. The arrangement also directs voices towards the middle, which makes them easier to hear.
- Seat them with family & friends. As mentioned above, seating HoH guests with people they know makes them more likely to join conversations. Their friends and family are also more likely to make sure they’re following, answer their questions, and act as interpreters.
- Designated quiet area. This can benefit everyone, but especially guests with hearing aids. Many hearing aids come equipped with background noise programs, but sometimes it’s easier to have a conversation outside or in another room. Make sure they have that space if they need it.
- Good lighting. While ambient lighting might set the mood, clear lighting is better for lipreading and sign language. That’s why HoH people gather in kitchens during home gatherings — it’s easier to see and hear!
- Keep the music down. People with hearing aids might feel overwhelmed by loud music, and it can increase the “cocktail party effect” where all noise, including conversations, start to blend together. Turn down the tunes — unless it’s time to dance!
- Printed speeches & reception information. Printing copies of your guests’ speeches and wedding vows can make it easier for HoH guests to follow along, whether they have hearing aids or not.
- Hire an interpreter. If you have deaf guests (who do not use hearing aids), an interpreter can translate speeches, vows, and other announcements into sign language.
- Prepare a “photo buddy”. Photo sessions can be nerve-wracking for the hard of hearing, especially if the photographer has instructions they cannot hear. Ask someone to be their “photo buddy”, so they don’t miss their opportunity to document their fun.
- Close caption your wedding videos. If you have a compilation of memories and videos, your HoH guests might not be able to hear or understand it. Add some captions, so they know what’s going on!
These are just a few of the ways you can accommodate those with hearing loss. Technology has made it easier for those with hearing loss to engage in public activities and events. Speech-in-noise programs, telecoils, and Bluetooth technology are just a few of the hearing aid developments making life easier for wearers. For example, remote microphones like Signia’s streamlineMic make it possible for specific voices to be fed through a Bluetooth link, making it possible to carry on a conversation or hear a speech in a crowded room.
If you know one of your guests uses this technology, ask them how you can loop this into your wedding planning!
The Beauty of HoH-Friendly Weddings
The best part about including HoH guests in your wedding planning is that it’s a gesture of kindness. If you’re willing to go out of your way to make accommodations for a family member or friend, it’s a sign that you care. Your thoughtfulness won’t go unappreciated, especially when everyone is able to have a good time and enjoy themselves — regardless of their hearing.
With your friends, family, and spouse by your side, you can start your new life on a good foot.
Weddings are just one event that requires extensive planning. If you’d like more tips on how to help your HoH friends, Signia is always providing information. Matters of hearing don’t just concern those with hearing loss, they matter to everyone! Sign up for the Signia newsletter, and stay in the loop about hearing aids, aural health, and living with hearing loss.