We disagree with Dr. Phil! Relationships between inter-abled couples and couples with disabilities can be successful!
Recently, Dr. Phil McGraw said on his popular television show that “one hundred out of one hundred times,” relationships between inter-abled couples do not work. As a happily married visually impaired woman with a background in pastoral care and counseling, I thoroughly disagree with Dr. Phil.
Last week, I shared an article with seven relationship tips that can help all couples, but especially couples with disabilities. This week, I am happy to host an article written by one of my best friends, Martha Harris.
Martha is a writer and young professional who lives in Minneapolis. She is also blind. I am very much looking forward to officiating at her upcoming wedding!
Making My Wedding Accessible
By: Martha Harris
This article was originally published in CAPTIVATING! It is reprinted here with the author’s permission. CAPTIVATING! is an amazing magazine that is breaking barriers and empowering members of the disability community. We encourage you to check out CAPTIVATING! for more great articles like this one.
I was never the woman who had her wedding planned since I was a little girl, but since I’m getting married in seven months, it’s been on my mind. What kind of dress do I want? I’m looking at dresses made with organic materials from Etsy, eco-friendly and supporting small business at the same time. How many people do we want to invite, and who should be in the wedding party? These typical questions and many more came to mind in the early stages of planning, but one of the major ones on my mind from the beginning is:
How do we make it accessible for everyone?
Why is Accessibility Important to Me?
I work at a software company helping businesses, schools, retailers, and others ensure their websites are accessible for all disabled people. Even before that, I cared about accessibility; I’ve attended events where I had trouble accessing information or was entirely excluded, because of my blindness, auditory processing disorder, or food intolerances. I want to ensure our friends and family are included and accommodated in the ways that work for them.
The Venue and Food
The most important piece for this is [the location] where we are going to get married. We needed somewhere inexpensive that we could prepare and bring in our own food instead of using a catering service. I have a gluten intolerance, and we have guests who have Celiac disease, are lactose intolerant, vegetarian, and can’t eat pork for religious reasons. My fiancé Quinn and I aren’t fancy food people, so we are having a build your own burrito bowl bar. People can choose chips, chicken or vegetables, cheese and sour cream or salsa, guacamole, ETC. We’ll also have gluten-free cookies, fruit salad, and other allergy-friendly sides and desserts.
Is the venue physically accessible?
There is a ramp leading inside, an elevator, and a restroom with a wheelchair accessible stall. This is always an important check because sometimes places say it is accessible, but it is located behind a step to enter the main restroom space or locked until someone requests a key.
Can people’s voices and music be heard?
Luckily, a microphone and sound system are included in the venue price. This will be helpful for anyone who is hard-of-hearing or has an auditory processing disorder, so they won’t have to strain to hear and understand what is happening.
Are there multiple spaces to be?
I and some of our friends have anxiety and get overwhelmed after a while by all the people and noise. There is a dressing room area as well as a patio near a fountain for people who need a quieter space or somewhere to take upset children for a break from the festivities.
Can people easily get to the venue?
It is across the street from a bus stop, so it will be inexpensive for people who don’t drive to attend. If they want a car, there is Uber and Lyft, which will only be a few dollars per person, especially if they share the ride. The wedding and reception are in the same building, so there is no additional travel cost.
Can people access our information?
We made a Facebook group, and we’ll send out print and braille paper invitations for those who need or want them.
Other Things to Consider:
I will braille out my vows, so I can read them and won’t forget what to say. We might buy braille wedding rings. We’ll request people to be fragrance-free to not trigger people who get migraines, have chemical sensitivity, or just don’t like strong scents.
We’ll hopefully keep the music at a comfortable volume, enough to enjoy and understand the songs but not so loud we have to shout at the person sitting next to us.
We posted asking people to privately send any accommodations they need that aren’t already listed.
About the Author- Martha Harris:
I was born in Paraguay, lived in Baltimore, grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania, went to grad school in Louisiana, and now live in Minneapolis. My undergrad degrees are journalism and sociology. I studied for a Master’s in teaching blind students, worked on an adult literacy certificate, and took online courses to learn about web and app accessibility. I also read constantly, especially realistic fiction books that make me think and anything to do with social justice and intersectionality. My previous job was teaching braille and assistive technology to blind children and adults, and I am currently a web accessibility tester.
Finally, I love trying new foods, blogging occasionally, learning any new software or hardware, making bead and charm bracelets, shopping, listening to musicals, especially Hamilton, going to plays and concerts, spending time with my fiancé and friends, and playing with my dog and cat.
If you found this article helpful, you may also enjoy 16 Easy Ways you can make your church or other organization more accessible or the great articles in CAPTIVATING, a free monthly magazine that showcases the the achievements of people with disabilities.
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