Deaf athletes:

The Deaflympic Games are among the world's oldest and fastest growing sports events. They offer competition at the highest level. But they are also about building your skills, friendships, networks and pride in the worldwide deaf community. The vision of founder Eugène Rubens-Alcais of France, the Deaflympics are held in the Olympic spirit, bringing you together with other great athletes from around the world for friendly competition, networking and social and cultural interaction. The games are sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee, IOC. Yet, the Deaflympics are unique in the world of sports.

Communication for the athletes:

Unlike the athletes in all other IOC sanctioned games, including the Olympics, the Paralympics and the Special Olympics, the Deaflympians cannot be guided by starter's guns, bullhorn commands or referee whistles. Nor can the majority of the athletes experience the crucial sense of inclusion in other general games because they cannot just strike up a conversation or in other ways communicate instantly or in a practical manner with their fellow hearing athletes. Communication is important, and for the deaf athlete, effective communication is vital for peak performance. Many times, communication is thought to be easy; one person speaks or signs, and the other person listens or interprets the signs. Even with instructions clearly stated, athletes perform drills incorrectly quite often. What makes communication ineffective? There are six reasons for ineffective communication:
(a) Content of the message is wrong;
(b) Inappropriate transmission of the message;
(c) Receiver does not listen or attend;
(d) Receiver misinterprets content;
(e) Receiver misinterprets intent; and
(f) Messages are inconsistent.


The Deaflympic games have become so important to the worldwide deaf community and why they must and will continue to go on independently, while continuing their rapid growth in scope, size and importance. Increasingly, they also serve as a bridge between athletes brought up in the traditional schools for deaf children and the growing number of deaf athletes from mainstream educational institutions. Unlike other games for athletes with disabilities, which are all directed by non-disabled officials, the Deaflympics are run by deaf people for deaf athletes.

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© 2006