Found in translation: How helped a wedding accessibility need

Mar 25, 2019 | Blog, Stories

By Lie Shia Ong-Sintzel


I’m what you call an “ABC.” If you’ve read the popular book “Crazy Rich Asians” or watched the movie adaption of it, you know that stands for “American-born Chinese.”

As I was growing up, my immigrant parents instilled in me the importance of learning our family’s native language, Bahasa Indonesia. From the moment I was born, they spoke to me in Indonesian and English because they wanted me to be able to communicate with my grandmother, who lived with us (she spoke very little English) and all my relatives who still lived in Asia.

In junior high and college, when I had to choose a language to learn for school credit, I opted for American Sign Language because I wanted to be able to communicate with my deaf cousin, Christie, when she wasn’t wearing her hearing aids.

The importance of being able to communicate with my family continued to stick with me well into my adulthood.

Image of wedding - bride and groom with pastor

Photo by Lillyann Photography, used with permission.

So, flash forward years later, when I was now in my thirties, and had met my Mr. Right—I found myself planning a dream wedding at a castle in Victoria, B.C.

It was our special day, so it was  important to us that our wedding guests—which included some relatives from Indonesia and my cousin—would be able to follow along with the day’s events without any issues.

My fiancé and I talked it through. “Do we hire a translator?” “Maybe an ASL interpreter? But how would that work with having to translate into Indonesian and sign?” Would it make the ceremony too long if after every English phrase we had to have an Indonesian translation? What about the extra costs of a translator and interpreter?

Luckily, that’s when my other cousin/maid of honor, Natasha, jumped in with the idea of using the app. sends real-time captioning and language translation right to a person’s smartphone.

To prepare for the big day, we reached out to our pastor and had her send the script of the ceremony and sermon to us. We also made sure that we had a microphone plugged into a computer running the software to monitor the live captioning/translation.

So, even though our wedding ceremony was entirely spoken in English, my relatives were able to follow along on their smartphones as the app translated everything into Indonesian.

Picture of wedding guests using on mobile devices at outdoor wedding

Photo by Lillyann Photography, used with permission.

In the case of Christie, she followed the English captioning on her phone at the same time. This was especially helpful to her as the outdoor audio sometimes cut in and out. made it simple to localize our live event, delivering translation and captioning, all synchronized with what each speaker was saying.

Looking back on our wedding, our happily ever after was made even happier as our family and friends were not only able to feel the love of the day—but they were all able to understand everything too.

Lie Shia Ong-Sintzel is a Seattle-based former TV news producer with a passion for writing, communications and social media.

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