A funeral service is a time of both celebration and mourning. The deceased is celebrated for their lifetime achievements and mourned for their departure from the world. All funeral attendees must have the opportunity to understand and participate in a funeral service to have an equal opportunity to express their sorrow and grief. When you know that a funeral service will have deaf or hard-of-hearing attendees, there are many ways to subtly alter the service to provide a sense of inclusion to these people. Here are three ideas to discuss with your funeral service home so that everyone attending can follow the proceedings.
One of the first ways you can make a funeral service inclusive for the deaf is to set aside a specific seating area for those attendees. When situated at the back of the room, a deaf person finds it difficult to understand what is being said. Therefore, consider reserving a row towards the centre front of the room for these attendees to sit together. An unobstructed view of the front staging area makes lip-reading easier.
Sign Language Interpreter
Often, a large portion of a funeral service involves people standing and speaking in front of the attendees. While lip-reading is one way for a deaf person to understand the shared stories, lip-reading becomes problematic if the person speaks too quickly or stumbles over words. One way to overcome this issue is to have a signing interpreter located at the front of the room beside the speaker. First, ask the funeral service provider if they have a local recommendation for an interpreter. If they do not, contact your local sign language organisation for a list of those in your area. Your local doctor may also have recommendations for you.
Add Words To Presentations
Many funerals include song videos or photo montages to honour the deceased. Adding words to visual presentations allows deaf attendees to comprehend the service proceedings further. For example, if the deceased's favourite song video is playing, look for the lyric version of the song. The attendee cannot hear the music, but they will treasure the meaning of the singing. For photo montages, add a few words to each one to describe details of where and when the photograph occurred.
These are three ideas to help make a funeral service more inclusive to those who are deaf. Speak to a local funeral home for additional ways to make a service accessible for deaf attendees.