Deaf sport needs to engage with parents: SENDirect Launch

In the book, Same Spirit Different Team, I stress the importance of Deaf sport engaging with parents of deaf children for all kinds of reasons which are obvious.

In the past decade or so, Deaf sports organisations have found it difficult to contact parents because of safeguarding processes which are either preventing deaf adults from getting into schools to speak to deaf children and their parents or schools do not have the resources to make the link between Deaf sport and parents.

In the UK, there has been a recent re-structuring of the way in which parents of disabled children and those with other educational needs are connected up with schools and each other and also with other local and regional organisations who offer services and activities that would benefit them. This is an opportunity for Deaf sport.

SENDirect will be launching on 21 January. But what is it ?

The creators of SENDirect want families to be able to find the right activities and support that suit their interests, lifestyles and budgets. This includes finding the right after-school club, sporting activity etc

It should make it easier for Deaf sport organisations to promote their services directly to families and be able to understand and respond to their needs and demands for future services. I would also suggest that this is also an opportunity for smaller parent-led groups too, who wish to get their deaf children involved in sport and an active healthy lifestyle.

So, all Deaf sport organisations in the UK, if you have a committee members, supporters, athletes etc who live in the London area, I encourage you to ask them to go along to the SENDirect launch on 21 January 2015 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, London Docklands 4.30-6.30pm

You will need to book at ticket with Elizabeth Archer, Project Director or you can follow them on Twitter @sendirectnews

At the launch, you will be able to:

  • How Local Authorities are using the service to support effective commissioning
  • Speak to providers about how they plan to use the service to support their business development
  • Hear from families about their hopes and ambitions for the service
  • Talk to the team about how your Deaf sport organisation can get involved

As the saying goes “Do not wait until you are thirsty before you dig a well.” You have to help yourself now.

Critical Review of Thomas Giddens’ documentary: “Does Deaf Football have a Future?”

I have been eagerly anticipating the release of a new documentary “Does Deaf Football Have a Future?” because it is the first time in a while that a programme about Deaf sport was being made in the UK where I had no involvement or insight. I wanted to compare this documentary with my analysis and perspective of the way in which media promotes the Deaflympic Movement and Deaf sport.


The documentary has been made at BSL Zone who support the next generation of d/Deaf filmmakers through their Zoom 2014 scheme aimed at d/Deaf scriptwriters and directors who have some experience but have never had their work broadcast on television. This is Thomas Giddens first ever attempt at documentary filmmaking where he explores ideas about the future of Deaf football. The film is now available online.


There are an infinite number of ways to analyse a subject and in Same Spirit Different Team I highlight the important of how the media representation of sport shapes and informs public attitudes to disability sport. Journalists have the power to inform or not to inform and they construct reality from their particular perspectives. I was looking forward to finding out how far Giddens would take his responsibility of wielding power to inform us about the future of Deaf football.


Without giving too much away; I recommend that you watch this enjoyable and well-made documentary as I think it gives people a broad perspective of Giddens potential as a documentary maker. This debuting director was limited to 15 minutes of airtime and I think he did well to;

  • Use old newsreels and contemporary footage, to give us an historical perspective from the experience of the current GB manager Philip Gardiner.
  • Advocate the current politics and philosophies about deaf football
  • Briefly explore the importance of role models and inclusive football
  • Give us all a hint into what the senior management at GB Deaf Football believes needs to be done in the future


Exposure to mass media plays a significant role in reinforcing existing norms and attitudes that might serve to change public attitudes. Family and peer opinions can be strong, but these too are mass media influenced. Journalists have the power to inform or not inform and they construct reality form their particular perspectives.


I hope this experience has inspired Giddens to continue making sports documentaries because the more coverage we have of the Deaflympics and Deaf sport, the more information we have to share with the public and society to increase exposure and encourage debate and discussion.


Whatever coverage is realised, it does influence attitudes towards the Deaflympics brand; and so it is important that national federations like UK Deaf Sport and their IOC representative the International Committee of Sport for the deaf (ICSD) interacts with the media as much as it possibly can; to present a positive and attractive brand to future athletes, target audiences, corporate supporters and others who are essential to the sustainability of Deaf sport.


The Zoom film scheme is designed to support the next generation of d/Deaf filmmakers. Included five days training, mentorship, script development, production and communication support. Find out more by logging into the BSL Zone.

ICSD Audiogram Cheating is a Disgrace

Deaf sports men and women and their public supporters have been contacting Two Big Ears to demonstrate their anger and concern at the news that International Committee of Sport for the Deaf (ICSD) employs staff who have been found guilty of falsifying audiograms. They have responded to the declaration from Deaflympic cyclist Tom Smith who has led the call for the Executive Board of ICSD to investigate and make changes to the ICSD leadership otherwise he will be boycotting the 2017 Summer Deaflympics.

Thousands of people around the globe have been following the story since it broke on the 23rd December here on Two Big Ears. Amongst these readers is Deaflympic swimmer Emily Noden who believes that the situation is “a disgrace because it strips deaf athletes of their reputations as honest sportsmen and women.” She has come out in support of the need for Deaf sport to come under the control of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) in order that doping and audiogram regulations can be controlled at events like the European Deaf Swimming Championships where she competed recently “ the fact that there was no doping control meant I was at an unfair advantage knowing anyone there could have taken performance enhancing drugs and got away with it, making the sport potentially dishonest.”

A former Deaflympic swimmer, who remains anonymous suggests that it would be difficult to integrate deaf events into the Paralympics but does agree that the ICSD should be working closer in parallel with the IPC “to get back to better managed again.” With doping and audiogram control under independent bodies to oversee this work. The swimmer went on to say “It’s unfortunate that the ICSD Delegate voters went for Russian to be president of ICSD in 2013 who has now caused controversies to date. We in deaf sport will need to learn from mistakes and choose a proper and right people to sit on ICSD and a new president to manage, led and change where Craig Crowley have left off as he had done so much of the rebuilding work…” and that the ‘ill-advised’ delegates who voted not to re-elect Crowley in 2013 are “banging their head on the wall with their mistake.”

Verity Joyce who competed in the Deaf World Games (Deaflympics) in 1993 aged 12 can “certainly see advantages for being part of the para movement – funding being a big one, along with status and integrity.” Able to speak from previous experience of being part of a former Paralympic swimming set up “communication is key and no other athlete was isolated to the same level as I was in terms of information and inclusion. If we are to become a part of the para movement, it will be a huge culture shock to them, the media and so on. Also we need to fight for communication inclusion on a whole new level, which in some ways will be a shame as it will detract from the sport.”

In reply to Joyce, Emily Nolan said “The IPC, with their millions of pounds of funding they have received in recent years would certainly not have any problems in funding interpreters”.

Members of the Deaf community, like David Jackson (married to the Deaf Culture and Sign Language advocate Eva Feilding-Jackson) who supports and enjoys watching Deaf sport are coming round to the idea of deaf people competing in the Paralympics and argues that Deaf sport should accept the fact that logistics and IOC regulations will mean that deaf athletes will be subject to the limitation of athlete numbers as it is for all disability classifications because “It is the Deaf Awareness aspect that will definitely arise from seeing Deaf athletes on TV and in newspapers. That can certainly be a good thing for us. We need to force the ICSD do accede to this- it seems to me that some of the ICSD members are from countries where there is a clout to stop us being part of the Para’s movement. If that is the case, it is a very negative attitude that we will suffer for years to come.”

The ICSD (International Committee of Sport for the Deaf) have not commented publicly on the issue of audiogram cheating but reliable sources have informed us at Two Big Ears that the Executive has “taken notice” of the story being released.

3,000 viewers in 59 countries are paying attention to this story and expect to hear some answers from ICSD.

The Russian-led ICSD who control regulations for the Summer and Winter Deaflympics and oversee regional federations around the globe will be holding their next (45th) Congress at the end of March during the 15th Winter Deaflympics taking place in the winter sports city of Khanty-Mansiysk – in one of the most isolated and little known regions of Russia. Congress information packages have ben sent out to national delegates and ICSD president Rukhledev said ‘The more of you are able to come, then the more we are able to discuss the many pending items on the agenda that requires approval.”

Guy Finney of the UK deaf athletics team wants the 45th Congress delegates to challenge ICSD on taking remedial action over false audiograms – Two Big Ears wants to know who will be brave enough to make the long trek to Khanty-Mansiysk to stand up and challenge the Russian Bear?


For an in depth study of the Deaflympics you can order a copy of the latest book


Cyclist will boycott next Summer Deaflympics if ICSD do not change their ways.

Professional cyclist and Deaflympic silver and bronze medal winner, Tom Smith from Wales has responded to the latest news on the falsification of audiograms.


“Your recent article on the falsification of audiograms by the Russian leadership of Deaf sport has touched me in a negative way. I am really disappointed about what I have read.

I have never been comfortable about the outcome of the election at the ICSD Congress in Sofia 2013, where America and Great Britain promoted clear mandates and manifestos in their election campaigns. The Russians provided neither a manifesto nor even a general plan on what they were going to achieve.

Since then, the ICSD President; without reason, has sacked its entire staff, the majority of whom was British and brought in an abundance of Russian personnel.

After this I learned that at the European Swimming Championships (held in Russia), all doping controls were held on the final day after a week’s worth of competition, and not all events were tested. This alone makes a mockery of sporting values, and towards WADA.

The Russian ICSD have made no improvements to deaf sport, no improvements to doping control, no improvements to athletes futures and refuse to answer simple emails from nations about upcoming events. More worrying is that the ICSD President has told the IOC and IPC that he does not need their assistance to develop deaf sport; this misplaced defiance is both arrogant and irresponsible.

And then we learn about a senior member of staff, put there by the ICSD President himself; submitting a false Audiogram under an athletes name, putting them in danger of disqualification. Fortunately for that athlete the situation was rectified but let me ask you this- what right do Russia have to the in charge of the ICSD?

I want to say to my fellow Deaflympians; do you honestly believe that the ICSD leadership has your best interest at heart? They have so far ignored the Athletes Commission chaired by Dean Barton-Smith and Terence Parkin. They have already been found guilty of manipulating audiograms. They have lied, they have cheated, and they have alienated the IOC and IPC along the way. Deaf Sport currently has no future.

Are you really going to sit back and allow this to carry on? We should be in the Paralympics where our best interests will be safeguarded, and also to enhance deaf awareness. There have been talks of a petition for the Deaflympic athletes who really want this change. If you want this change, email Two Big Ears and let them know.
As an athlete who has morals and ethics, I can say that I will 100% not be going any further Deaflympics with these criminals in charge.”