Sport in the British Deaf Community

Atherton, Martin orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-7300-2339 (2007) Sport in the British Deaf Community. Sport in History, 27 (2). pp. 276-292. ISSN 1746-0263

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Deaf people are widely perceived as being disabled and consequently socially disadvantaged, particularly those who rely on sign language for communication. Profoundly deaf people in mainstream sport are a rarity, and at the highest levels only a few examples can be found throughout the history of professional sport. This apparent lack of participation only serves to reinforce the idea that deaf people are in some way incapable of taking part in little more than perfunctory sporting activity. However, this is not the case. Deaf people have been involved in a variety of sporting endeavours since the dawn of organized sport. In this article, the extent and diversity of deaf people's involvement in sport will be outlined, drawing on a longitudinal study of the activities of deaf club members from across north-west England. The different sports their members engaged in, the extent of such activity and the importance of such involvement in bonding and maintaining communal identity among deaf people will all be demonstrated. In doing so, it is intended that the general perception of deaf people as being socially isolated, particularly in relation to sport, will be shown to be false.

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