ASL University | Bookstore | Catalog | Dictionary | Lessons | Resources | Syllabi | Library

Deaf Sports:
Also see: "Deaf Sports"

Krystin Dougherty

The Deaf Community and Sports

"The term Deaf sports refers to sports activities by deaf people as well as the surrounding activities relating to the organization of Deaf sport events and the spectators who watch them" (Stewart & Ellis). Deaf sports are designed specifically for deaf people. For example, in athletics, water polo, and swimming, instead of a gunshot or a whistle going off to start the race, they use a lighting system. In team sports, such as football, referees use a flag to signal the players instead of a whistle (The Official Website of UK Deaf Sport).

Sports for the deaf community provide athletic competition without compromising athleticism. They also provide an opportunity for social interaction with other people who are in their position.

Before the 1920's, there were not any programs being held for any type of disability group. A deaf man named Eugène Rubens-Alcais changed all that. He envisioned a national Olympics for deaf people. So he made a similar version of the Olympics that were designed specifically for the deaf. Because of this, he came to be known as the father of modern Olympics. Antoine Dresse shared this dream with Eugene, so he helped to accomplish this goal (International Committee of Sports for the Deaf). Together they created the International Silent games in 1924. The first summer games were held in Paris and included 9 nations and 145 athletes (International Committee of Sports for the Deaf). Some of the games included were cycling, diving, football, shooting, swimming and tennis (International Committee of Sports for the Deaf). In 1949, the winter games were added. The first winter games were held in Seefeld, Austria and included 5 countries and 33 athletes (International Committee of Sports for the Deaf).

Since 2003, the International Silent games have been known as the deaflympics. The next deaflympics is scheduled for February 10, 2011 in High Tatras, Slovakia (American Hearing Impaired Hockey Association). The deaflympics has made tremendous progress in the number of countries and athletes that attend. In 2005, 2200 athletes from 70 countries participated (International Committee of Sports for the Deaf).

There are many famous deaf athletes. The American Athletic Association of the Deaf started a Hall of Fame in 1952. Since 1955, they annually pick an athlete of the year. William Hoy was first of the many people inducted into their Hall of Fame. William Hoy was an outstanding baseball player. He played for the Cincinnati Reds and the Washington Senators. He was the man who came up with the signs that baseball umpires use when they declare strike, out, ball, safe, etc. In 1952, he was inducted into the American Athletic Association of the Deaf's Hall of Fame (Think Quest).

A more recent deaf athlete that is very well known is Terrence Parkin. In 2000, Terrence competed in the Olympics in Sydney. There, he was awarded the silver medal in the 200-meter breaststroke. At the 2005 deaflympics he competed in the 400-meter free style race and received the gold medal (Berke). He also competed in the 50-meter breaststroke event, where he received the gold medal and broke the existing record (News 24).

Works Cited

American Hearing Impaired Hockey Association.,0006

Berke, Jamie. (2007, June 13). People - Terrence Parkin, Deaf Swimmer.

The Official Website of UK Deaf Sport.

International Committee of Sports for the Deaf.

International Committee of Sports for the Deaf.

International Committee of Sports for the Deaf.

News 24.,9294,2-9-32_1644651,00.html

Stewart, D.A. & Ellis, M.K. 2005. Sports and the Deaf Child. American Annals of the Deaf, Volume 150, 62

The Official Website of UK Deaf Sport.

Think Quest.


Want to help support ASL University?  It's easy DONATE (Thanks!)
(You don't need a PayPal account. Just look for the credit card logos and click continue.)

Another way to help is to buy something from the ASLU "Bookstore."

Want even more ASL resources?  Visit the "ASL Training Center!"  (Subscription Extension of ASLU)   CHECK IT OUT >

Bandwidth slow?  Check out "" (a free mirror of less traffic, fast access)   VISIT >