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MDRC cultivates disability pride and strengthens the disability movement by recognizing disability as a natural and beautiful part of human diversity while collaborating to dismantle all forms of oppression.

Being the Maid of Honor in a wedding is a role that can be one of great trust, love and fun. Yet the duty of delivering the traditional speech or toast to the bride and groom can be absolutely terrifying. Over a year ago, 23-year old Sarah was asked to be the Maid of Honor at her sister’s wedding. At first, she was happy and excited, but doubt set in when she realized that it involved giving the toast in front of everyone.

Sarah told her sister that she could not be her Maid of Honor. She had a developmental disability and difficulty with her hearing and speech, which made her feel as though she couldn’t deliver such a meaningful and important speech.

A young woman holding a wine glass. smilingGloria Henry, an independent contractor with Disability Network Oakland and Macomb, who works with the Michigan Assistive Technology Program, had the idea of using the iPad’s video features to practice and record the speech. The toast would then be played on a video screen at the wedding. Gloria encouraged Sarah to practice and record her speech as many times as necessary. Practice she did...the scripted version had 26 attempted versions, yet it still didn't seem to convey what she wanted to say. Gloria and Sarah decided to try a new approach. They attached her sister's picture to the iPad and she was encouraged to look at her sister and pretend the wedding vows had just been recited. Sarah was then able to record a speech in her own words from the heart. She expressed her love for her sister, congratulations to the couple and the new members of her extended family, and reminded her new brother-in- law (a fisherman) that he “just caught the best catch of his life”.


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