Inclusivity in Sports : Deaf People

A child can recognize his/her mother by the sound of her voice. Parents can solve their children’s problems after listening to them. The medium of speaking and hearing does interaction between a teacher and student. These may be common occurrences for many of us, but most of us fail to realize that we are privileged human beings. We can hear the world. Many of our fellow human beings are not so lucky. Either by birth or by accident, they lose their ability to hear. They are termed “deaf.”

However, not all hope is lost. Sign Language is a way for deaf people to communicate with each other. Many hard-of-hearing people use it. Though different countries have their sign language, the structure and grammar of those languages are nearly the same, allowing people to understand each other reasonably well.

Many organizations work for the upliftment of the quality of life for these language minority people. Some help them in their education, some in their jobs, etc., while others uplift their life by allowing them to play and compete in sports.

All India Sports Council of the Deaf is one such sports organization, recognized by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, which trains the deaf or hard of hearing sportsman for various competitions such as World Deaf Badminton Championships, World Deaf Golf Championships, ASEAN Deaf Games, and mainly for Deaflympics.

Sports are an integral part of human life. It develops a person mentally, physically, and emotionally. It provides a joyful environment for a child to grow. It also boosts the morale of humans. These benefits emphasize the need for sports for specially-abled people when their enthusiasm and confidence are down due to circumstances not in their control. Deaf sports are an essential aspect of the Deaf and Hard-of-social Hearing’s lives since they help them overcome the isolating language barrier.

The rules are nearly identical to those of regular sports, with a few exceptions. (Welcome to All India Sports of the Deaf, n.d.-a, p.1)

Difference between Deaf and Hearing Sports

One of the significant differences between Deaf and Hearing Sports is Communication. Deaf Players cannot shout commands like “Hit the bowl hard,” “Bowl Slow,” “Catch it,” “Pass the Ball,” “Over here! No, No.There!” In Sports like Cricket, there is confusion about whether there was an edge with the ball or not before the catch. It is also hard for the umpire/referee. They cannot blow the whistle to gain the attention of the players. In sports like Tennis, Badminton, or Table Tennis, the players determine the strength of the shot with the sound generated by it. Deaf players cannot decide whether or not it was a smash or spin shot by sound. It is difficult to defend against these shots if you do not know beforehand; thus, it becomes a problem.

There is little effect of the crowd or home advantage for the deaf player. The public cannot goad deaf players. The showmanship in the game that crowds want is almost absent. So, it does not attract the public to the game, making these events not much popular. (Welcome to All India Sports of the Deaf, n.d.-b, p. 2)


Deaflympics is an International Olympic Committee sanctioned event, where the deaf players are given a platform to compete at an elite level. As the name suggests, these sports are only for the deaf and thus cannot be conducted like the other public events. However, many organizations promote the Deaflympics.

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