Every four years, the world becomes caught up in the Olympics. During that short span of days, people who might never ordinarily watch swimming, skiing, tennis or a pantheon of other sports, sit entranced and watch them, just because it’s the Olympics. The drama, the medals, the emotions – it’s almost addictive. “The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat,” indeed.
For athletes with challenges that prevent their participation in the Olympics, there are the Paralympics or the Special Olympics. In the Paralympics, spectators can see athletes with physical challenges who may compete in wheelchairs or with the assistance of other physical adaptations. Athletes with mental challenges can also experience the thrill of competition in the Special Olympics.
But where do deaf athletes fit in? Their deafness does not, in itself, prevent athletic participation. Deafness does not cause a person to run more slowly, swing a racket less skillfully, or make a poor turn at the end of a pool lane. Why do we not see deaf athletes competing alongside Kerri Walsh and Michael Phelps?