This bride with cerebral palsy walked herself down the aisle P

This bride with cerebral palsy walked herself down the aisle P

We’re celebrating Disability Pride Month with non-stop disability-related posts on Offbeat Bride’s Facebook and Instagram this week. To kick the week off, we’re sharing Phuong & Regan’s gorgeous modern elegant Texas wedding… wait until you see Phuong’s proud walk down the aisle!

Photos by Chevy Chey Photo and Video

Offbeat partners:  Regan & Phuong (aka @wifey_on_wheels)

Date and location of wedding: 6/29/2019 at the Noah Event Center in Richardson, Texas. (The venue is now out of business.)

Our offbeat wedding at a glance:

We went for a modern elegant theme, with the colors of maroon and gold.

Most of my wedding decorations were DIYed by my mother-in-law, including the decorations on my walker. (I have a Kaye walker which is special equipment for people with cerebral palsy, designed to help us with posture and balance.) I bought fake florals from Amazon and bought tulles to decorate my walker and my wedding arch — I didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars on flowers!

At first, I wanted to walk down the aisle holding my parents’ hands — but I changed my mind because I want to be able to walk with more confidence and balance. I feel much better walking with my walker than without.

Since making that choice at my wedding, my confidence and pride about my disability has bloomed. I thought to myself that since my husband loves me the way I am… then I should love myself more, too! I have started to advocate for other disabled individuals, and share my story from that mindset on Instagram at @wifey_on_wheels.

Tell us about the ceremony:

Here’s our ceremony script.

WELCOME
Love is a miraculous gift, and a wedding is a celebration of that gift. We have come here today to celebrate this gift of love, and to add our best wishes and blessings to the words that shall unite Phuong and Regan in the bonds of marriage. What you promise to each other today must be renewed again tomorrow and every day that follows. At the end of this ceremony, legally you will be husband and wife. Still, you must decide each and every day to commit yourselves to one another. Make such a decision, and keep on making it, for the most important thing in life is to love and to be loved.

CONSENT
Who presents Phuong to be married to Regan?

Parents: We do.

Address and Readings
Today you are taking into your care and trust the happiness of the one person in this world whom you love with all your heart. And you are giving yourself, your life, and your love, into the hands of the one who loves you with all their heart. Always remember this, to the whole world, you are but one person, but to one person, you are the whole world.

However, true love goes far beyond the feelings of excitement and romance. It is caring more about the well-being and happiness of your marriage partner than your own needs and your own desires. And true love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction. You see, love makes burdens lighter because you divide them. Love makes joys more intense because you share them. Love makes you stronger so you can become involved with life in ways you dare not risk alone. True love says the two of you are just better together than when you are apart.

When you enter into marriage, you enter into life’s most important relationship. It is a gift given to bring comfort when there is sorrow, peace when there is unrest, laughter when there is happiness, and love when it is shared. But a successful marriage is not something that just happens. It takes work, it takes understanding, and it takes time. Most importantly, it takes a commitment from both of you—a commitment to do whatever it takes to make your relationship thrive and not just simply survive. A good marriage must be nurtured. Listen to these “words of wisdom” on how to create a successful marriage from a little book entitled The Art of Marriage.

The Art of Marriage
The little things are the big things.
It is never being too old to hold hands.
It is remembering to say “I love you” at least once a day.
It is never going to sleep angry.
It is at no time taking the other for granted; the courtship should not end with the honeymoon,
it should continue through all the years.
It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives; it is facing the world together.
It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family.
It is doing things for each other, not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy.
It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.
It is not expecting the husband to wear a halo or the wife to have the wings of an angel.
It is not looking for perfection in each other.
It is cultivating flexibility, patience, understanding, and a sense of humor.
It is having the capacity to forgive and forget.

It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow.
It is finding room for the things of the spirit.
It is the common search for the good and the beautiful.
It is the establishing of a relationship in which the independence is equal, the dependence is mutual,
and the obligation is reciprocal.

And finally, it is not only marrying the right partner, it is being the right partner.

Wedding Vows
Regan, please repeat after me:
I, Regan, take you, Phuong, / to be my partner in life. / I promise to walk by your side forever, / and to love, help, and encourage you / in all that you do. / I will take time to talk with you, / to listen to you, / and to care for you. / I will share your laughter and your tears / as your partner, lover, and best friend. / Everything I am and everything I have is yours / now and forevermore.

Phuong, please repeat after me:
I, Phuong, give myself to you Regan, / on this our wedding day. / I will cherish our friendship, / and love you today, tomorrow, and forever. / I will trust you and honor you. / I will love you faithfully / through the best and the worst, / through the difficult and the easy. / Whatever comes our way, I will be there always. / As I have given you my hand to hold, / so I give you my life to keep.

Tell us about the reception:

We had our first dance. Then my husband and his mom danced, he also danced with his sisters. I didn’t dance as much because of my disability.

After that, we had our meals and played a game with our bridesmaids and groomsmen. The game is musical chairs and they need to find items that the DJ tells them and return to the chairs before the music stops. We went out to take our bride and groom photos after dinner. And we proceeded to do cake cutting after. We did not do Bouquet toss or garter toss. We then ended our reception with a private dance and exit with sparklers.

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
The biggest challenge is that we had is to stay within budget. We had taken advice from our families and were trying to accommodate everyone. But in reality, I wish that we would’ve stuck to what we really wanted. We went over the budget that we had and unfortunately did not have enough money for a honeymoon. We had a little bad luck here and there as well — our original venue closing down so we have to book a new one within six months of the wedding date. We should have reinvented the wedding right at that time, but we just booked an even more expensive venue because of availability and just continued with the wedding. The wedding got bigger than what we were planning. Overall, I love my wedding, but I just wish that I could’ve been more firm with what my husband and I wanted from the start — which was a smaller wedding with some leftover money for the honeymoon.

Vendors

Photograph: Chevy Chey Photography
DJs: All Access DJ DFW

Gallery

Click to view slideshow.

How Can You Make Your Amazing Web Content Accessible P

How Can You Make Your Amazing Web Content Accessible P

How do the Guidelines Require Accessibility for All

 

Increased scrutiny has made Web Accessibility a hot issue around the globe.  In the United States, law firms are aggressively suing businesses and institutions.  These claims say that their websites fail to satisfy both Title III of the American Disabilities Act and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.  

WCAG 2.0 had provided guidelines, rather than laws or regulations.  In the United States, Congress failed to enact any meaningful legislation to provide firm directions on how to proceed.  In the European Union they acted and passed the General Data Protection Regulations.  The GDPR provides strong rules and regulations and tells exactly how individuals data must be handled.

 

What Does Web Accessibility Mean to the Disabled?

 

Most of us are familiar with how Accessibility applies to physical business places.  However, little thought has been given to how Accessibility applies to the Internet.  Accessibility on the World Wide Web demands that we break down barriers and open a clear path for everyone.  

This means that web pages must be designed so that those with Visual, Hearing, Motor and Cognitive disabilities have an equal opportunity to navigate and access every web page.

 

What Does WCAG 2.0 Tell Us is Important for Accessibility

 

Published in 2008, WCAG 2.0 consists of twelve guidelines that are organized under four principles.  The four WCAG principles, frequently called P.O.U.R., require that all websites must be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust.    

Each guideline also has testable success criteria.  To help web designers meet WCAG 2.0 guidelines a group of techniques were developed.  These techniques come with their own criteria to measure success. 

 

 

How do the Four Principles Make Your Content Accessible?

 

In the following sections we will take a closer look at each of the four WCAG 2.0 principles.  We will discuss how the four P.O.U.R. principles, perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust must be rooted in every aspect of our website design.

A study conducted by the University of Utah analyzed over 1,000,000,000 website home pages for web accessibility.  Their findings were a mixed bag of results, with 97.8% of home pages having WCAG 2.0 conformance failures.  The good news is that WCAG many WCAG conformance failures can be easily remedied.

Let’s take a look at each of the WCAG 2.0 principles and the guidelines reccomended for each principle.

 

Perceivable Principle

 

Your web information and user interface components must be presented to users in ways that they can perceive.

  • Guideline 1.1: Provide text alternatives for any non-text content so that it can be changed into other forms people need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols or simpler language.
  • Guideline 1.2: Time-based media: Provide alternatives for time-based media.
  • Guideline 1.3: Create content that can be presented in different ways (for example simpler layout) without losing information or structure.
  • Guideline 1.4: Make it easier for users to see and hear content including separating foreground from background.

 

 

Operable Principle

 

Your web user interface components and navigation must be operable by your visitors.

  • Guideline 2.1: Make all functionality available from a keyboard.
  • Guideline 2.2: Provide users enough time to read and use content.
  • Guideline 2.3: Do not design content in a way that is known to cause seizures.
  • Guideline 2.4: Provide ways to help users navigate, find content, and determine where they are.

 

 

Understandable Principle

 

Your visitors must find your information and the operation of user your interface to be understandable.

 

 

Robust Principle

 

Your web content must be robust enough that visitors can interpret it reliably using a wide variety of user agents and assistive technologies.

  • Guideline 4.1.: Maximize compatibility with current and future user agents, including assistive technologies.

 

 

 

You Should Act Immediately to Make Your Content Accessible

 

Place a Strong Accessibility Statement on Your Website

 

What you definitely should do first is place a strong Accessibility Statement on your website.  Then audit your site to check it’s accessibility and discover it’s shortcomings.  Next you need to decide if it’s time to redesign your site to address what you discovered during your audit.

Does your site need to be completely redesigned to embrace accessibility. If it does, find a web developer with the web accessibility knowledge required.  Then begin the redesign process.

If your site has been built using WordPress there are many options available to help you acheive web accessibility.  Look for themes or plug-ins designed to help make your site accessible.  

I chose the DIVI theme which has a robust approach to helping you make your site accessible for all.

 

Accessible weddings with less stress

Accessible weddings with less stress

Photos by Heidi Michelle

Your offbeat wedding can have way more options for accessibility than a wedding with a focus on making sure everything is done in the traditional way — but having lots of creative options doesn’t mean you have to stress and strive for a new ideal of perfection. Accessible weddings don’t need to be any more stressful than any other wedding. Plan a beautiful, bold, bodacious wedding that’s just right for you. And accessible.

Accessibility isn’t a new idea

While traditional brides might choose to finesse disabilities in their wedding photos, a high percentage of weddings include people who need some accommodation. After all, weddings are one of the few events that include all generations, including elderly family members who may have limited hearing, mobility, or vision.

They’re also a major life event for more people than almost any other. More than half of all American adults get married, and you know that includes plenty of people with disabilities — not to mention all your friends and relatives. Let’s face it, all weddings should be accessible. Statistics alone tell us that most weddings will include someone with a temporary or permanent disability. Planning ahead keeps that fact from creating problems on the day.

So start with our basic information on accessible weddings:

The venue is the biggest deal

Different buildings have different challenges and advantages when it comes to accessibility. This venue has acoustics that will make it harder for hearing-impaired people, that one has no ramps, and the other is a rabbit warren of little rooms that blind guests will have trouble negotiating. Give yourself extra time to find a site that is not only charming but also truly accessible.

Disability friendly wedding venues are so hard to find. Make sure you check for where the bathrooms are  – we went to a venue we liked only to discover the bathroom was down a flight of stairs and I couldn’t get to it on my own.

Make sure you visit the venue and see for yourself how accessible it is. You’ll still sometimes find a building where they think “We’ll be happy to help you up the stairs” is a good example of accessibility.

In fact, you might have to be ready to give up some of the charm. You’ll suffer less over this if you recognize the reality ahead of time.

Newer venues may cost a bit more, but often have better disabled access. Community halls that have been recently built could be a lower cost option than a wedding reception venue.

That lovely historic chapel reached by clambering over uneven and rocky paths could be a great place for a slow day of engagement photos, even if it’s not right for your ceremony.

The disabilities are not a big deal

This is not to diminish the effects of disabilities on our lives. It’s to recognize that accommodations are normal in the lives of people who need accommodations. Nobody needs to think of accessible weddings as a problem.

As a MOB who is disabled and will need to use her cane (GASP HORRORS!) to get down the aisle, I was surprised at how many people were obsessed with how I was going to make it down the aisle. I mean, it wasn’t even my wedding! OK, I’ll be a bit slow, and not as graceful as some of the other mothers in recent weddings, but my daughter doesn’t care, she loves me, as I’d support her if she needed assistance getting down the aisle.

If you’re aware of a disability that might affect your wedding, whether it’s your own, a member of the wedding party’s or a guest’s, just make a plan and move on. That well-meaning member of the wedding party who keeps sympathizing about your limited choices of wedding dress with your wheelchair? Tell them you don’t need or want sympathy (and read about wheelchair-friendly wedding dress choices). The vendor who doesn’t get it? Replace them.

We chose a wonderful photographer who was more than happy for my walking stick (or forearm crutch as its also known) to be part of the photos of the day as it is part of me.

Build in some margin

Some weddings are meant to be perfectly choreographed performances with split-second timing. Accessible weddings really aren’t.

We had chairs during the ceremony and a pre-meeting with our celebrant, who knew that fatigue was an issue and knew the signals for when I needed to sit down.

Prioritize the really important elements of the wedding — the things that are most meaningful for you — and cut the things that don’t matter as much. That way you can have a shorter wedding, or you can include breaks. Set aside places where people can collect themselves if that’s important for you or your guests.

One of the things that we (and our guests) found really helpful was having an ‘order of the day’ instead of an order of service, so instead of just listing the readings and the music, our order showed what time the service would start, when it would end, how long a break until the photos, how long a break until the next thing, when there would be food, when there would be snacks – it listed everything. This mean that guests who had to balance resting/medication could plan much more easily. The guests with physical impairments could rest, the guests with social anxiety related issues knew what to expect and when, the guests with autism had a piece of paper they could look at to know what was coming up next.

With clear priorities and determination, accessible weddings can be as chill as any other wedding.