Both of my parents were deaf, but they both spoke. I recently located their ketubah and noticed that the language in the text has some variations. For example, instead of the term “V’amar” it says, “U’remiza” – “signed”. I also noticed that there are 3 signatures vs. 2. I researched Ramba”m on the halachot of ketubah for chershim and understood that the 3 signatures are from the 3 Bet Din “judges” who act as witnesses.
My parents married in the early 1950’s. I’m curious why such a stipulation / special ketubah was needed. Since they spoke, halachically, they were not considered “chersshim”.
This is a very interesting question that was raised recently in the context of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.
Traditionally, a special Kesuba document was used for deaf people, even if they spoke a little. This is based on the rulings of Poskim from previous generations, who actually disputed the status of deaf people who were taught to speak a little (but not fluently) – see Shut Divrei Chaim, Even HaEzer 2:72; Maharam Shick Even HaEzer 79. If a deaf person speaks fluently, then he is not considered “deaf” in halachah.
However, with the great improvement in education for deaf people and their ability to communicate, the need for a special Kesuba document and wedding ceremony (the question is whether the Berachos are recited) has repeatedly come into question, and the Rabbinate has recently issued new directives whereby a regular ceremony and Kesuba can be used, even for deaf people who are unable to speak, provided that it is clear that there possess full faculties of intellect.