Connecting Deaf Sport Organizations with the Education of Deaf Children
Although technology has yet to develop a crystal ball that will allow us to foretell the changes that the future holds for the education of deaf children, it has given us the means to reach out to these children—a mission for all Deaf sport organizations. Some specific goals related to this mission are as follows:
All of these goals bring with them substantial educational benefits. Children who play sports and games with one another are developing their linguistic skills and social-cognitive abilities. They gain practice in conversation skills. They become engaged in self-expression, which helps them formulate ideas about concepts they encounter and eventually about themselves. When they participate in Deaf sport activities they learn about the lives of Deaf adults, who might become inspirations for them.
Using Internet web sites is an obvious means for accomplishing some of the goals listed above because it gives Deaf sport organizations the potential to contact a large number of deaf students as well as their parents and teachers. But another means of contact that must not be forgotten in the wake of cyberspace dust is person to person interactions.
For example, in Auckland, New Zealand, the Deaf community through the national organization called Friends for Young Deaf People, sponsors an annual day of sports for deaf school age children. The event is open to all deaf children regardless if the type of school program they attend or which mode of communication they use. The educational and social value of this annual event for deaf children includes the following:
Another example of how deaf children can be introduced to Deaf sport activities is found in a recruitment strategy that has been used by the British Columbia Deaf Sports Federation (BCDSF) which has its headquarters in Vancouver, Canada. The BCDSF once provided free membership to all deaf students who were at least 16 years of age and attended the local school for the deaf. This organization also had a student representative from the school for the deaf on its Board of Directors and occasionally free rides were offered to students who wished to attend a Board meeting.
Both of the foregoing examples illustrate how Deaf sport organizations can reach out to school age deaf children and introduce them to opportunities for participating in Deaf sport events. The changes that are happening in the education of deaf children make it imperative that Deaf organizations around the world make some effort to influence the shaping of deaf children's vision of what it is like to be deaf in a world dominated by speaking and hearing individuals and to know that as adults they will have access to more that one community of people. This effort is needed so that no matter where deaf children go to school or how they are educated, they will have the experiences and knowledge necessary to make decisions about their own lifestyles and engagement on Deaf community activities.
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