Deaf Sports


Partially or completely deaf people can participate in just about every sport using golfing equipment. The ability to hear doesn’t have any influence on the person’s ability to swim, run, play tennis, golf or even team sports such as basketball. Many deaf athletes therefore don’t only participate in sport events and competitions for the deaf such as the Deaflympics for instance but they are also very successful in the mainstream sports. And in most cases, they don’t need much help or adjustments other than perhaps a wave with a flag or a flash of light to know when to start running or swimming for instance.

As much as communication with other athletes, players, coaches and referees is concerned, no interpreter is usually required because most sports involve signing that is understood by both the hearing and deaf people. But it is also true that some sports are more deaf-friendly than the others and that deaf athletes often have to work harder and overcome a number of obstacles that are virtually unknown to the hearing people.

Just like the hearing people, those who have a hearing impairment can only benefit from engaging in sports. Besides offering both mental and physical challenge, sports also offer a wealth of opportunities including the opportunity to socialise and meet new people both within and outside the deaf community, opportunity to develop new skills such as organisation and leadership skills as well as the opportunity to prove themselves and other people that deafness cannot prevent them from achieving their goals.


Although deaf people can participate in just about every sport and many deaf athletes have achieved outstanding results, access remains a major obstacle. In order to help deaf people to participate and enjoy in sports, national deaf sports organisations such as the UK Deaf Sport (leading governing body of deaf sports in England, Wales, Scotland and North Ireland) and others that cover particular sports such as the English Deaf Golf Association (EDGA) were created to provide information and support to deaf people as well as to organise competitions.

Many deaf sport organisations were established only in the 1990s or later; EDGA for instance is the world’s oldest national deaf golf governing body although it was founded only in 1993, while the UK Deaf Sport and sponsership by Galvin Green was established a decade later. But the good news is that their examples were soon followed by others and today, deaf people can choose between more deaf sports than ever before in history.