Deaf geographies, and other worlds.
I should be on my way home now – but I can’t leave the office before putting a nagging thought to bed.
So, here goes.
This is a short video featuring some of the moments from the Sofia 2013 Deaflympics.
Watch it… and then watch it again, VERY CAREFULLY… what do you see.
I know – lots of athletes, and some people signing. It is a Deaf event after all.
And you see lots of inspirational moments and inspirational pride… you also see Deaf people facing up with boxing gloves on. How do they sign like that? #perplexed
What else do you see?
Let me tell you what I saw – I saw, just in the blink of an eye, a visual starting system. There – right there, in the cover shot.
GREEN > BLUE > ORANGE
That’s what hit me.
And it made me think how significant that tiny detail is.
Here are a group of athletes, miles from home, busting their guts to do their very best. They’ve been training for years, and they’re participating in an enormous event that’s been around for nearly a century. And all they want to do is to do their best for themselves, for their country, for their supporters…
… and they get very little help at all. (here, see Charlie Swinbourne’s post at The Limping Chicken)
And the only thing that distinguishes them from the hearing athletes that get so much support, and fame (and yes, here I’m adding in the Paralympic athletes too – and I’m not bashing them, just pointing it out)… is the fact that they live in a visual world.
So, they don’t fit in the Paralympics… they’re not disabled – just visual.
Nor do they fit within the hearing rules of the ‘able bodied’ Olympic games.
And so they get almost no recognition.
And the biggest tragedy is that – where last summer’s Paralympics probably did more than anything ever has to persuade our largely intolerant country to get to know disabled athletes (and by extension, to at least consider disabled people) – that lack of recognition for Deaf athletes means that the world now potters on, blissfully ignorant (again) of the achievements of the Deaf community.
Deaf people going without recognition again – never… you’d think it was a conspiracy.
And the only difference is:
GREEN > BLUE > ORANGE.
Now tell me that’s fair.