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This is a transcript of a radio debate between Craig Crowley, former President of the International Committee of Sports for the

Deaf and Andy Palmer, Deputy Editor of deaf news website, The Limping Chicken. Broadcast on 18th January 2014 on BBC Sports Hour on the BBC World Service. The presenters were Caroline Barker and Manny.

Caroline The former President of the international committee of sports of the deaf, or ICSD, Craig Crowley, has told Sports Hour that some deaf athletes and spectators felt like second class citizens at the London Olympics and Paralympics. Manny His comments come as the location for the 2015 Deaflympics has finally been confirmed as Kanti Mansiyk in Russia, leaving the new president, Dr Valery Rukhledev just over a year to prepare for the event. Vancouver withdrew its offer to host the games. That after the 2011 Deaflympics, which were destined for Slovakia, were cancelled at late notice. Caroline So why do Deaf athletes compete outside of the Paralympic movement? To discuss the issue alongside Craig Crowley whose words are spoken by a sign language interpreter, is assistant editor of the deaf news website, The Limping Chicken, Andy Palmer. Andy One of the things that separates Paralympians from Deaflympians is that they are parts of different communities; so Paralympians are part of the hearing community and deaf athletes are part of their own deaf community, sort of bound by deaf culture. And thats part of the reason why they have separate games because we all know that in sport, one of the biggest factors about it, is the social element and the enjoyment and the camaraderie with other sports people. And thats why its important that I think deaf people have their own games. Manny Craig, whats the point of deaf athletes having their own games? Craig Its about equality. If you imagine equality in sport, the bigger question. A, through sign language and other forms of communication, also accessibility, technology etc., translation services, interpreting. All these things havent happened within the Paralympic movement but in our own games they have. All those are contributing factors, major contributing 1

factors, that would maintain those games, need to continue. In addition, you mentioned about the Paralympic movement taking off, and thats because theyve moved on and continued to develop closely with the Olympics (IOC), that clearly, proved itself to many governments in particular countries to say, we will support it. But the deaf Olympic movement has a raw deal, subsequently, without that recognition. Manny Craig, do you regard yourself, as being a deaf person, as being disabled? Craig (Laughs) Thats a very good question, I anticipated you might ask me that question. Put simply, if you ask me directly, I am deaf. First and foremost, I am deaf. In addition, because of my deafness, I have a disability, but I wouldnt actually call that a disability per se. There are many Paralympic athletes who likewise wouldnt call themselves disabled. They would call themselves, para-athletes. Its a wonderful word that. Its about equality and how people are perceived. And how people want to be perceived by other people. Equality is the key thing there, I hope I answered your question. Caroline Andy, we hear a lot about funding and that is one of the issues here. If the ICDS had more funding, and didnt come under the banner of the IPC, would you be happy? Andy Really, to drive the change we need to get deaf sports recognised, we need some sort of inclusion in the Paralympic movement to raise the profile and get these athletes the funding they deserve, that is what I would welcome. But I have seen in different countries that the situation is the same [as here] where Paralympians are funded very well whereas the deaf athletes are not and you can see the willingness of governments all around the world to support the Deaflympics, isnt there. Craig Andy is quite right, indeed, but I do think there is something critical to be very clear about. In my term as president over those four years, I discovered out of 108 member countries, only eight of those particular countries, those organisations, those committees, were recognised by the host countries. Also its my view, as my time as the president, that the only way forward is for the ICSD to work closely with the IPC if we go back into the Paralympics, only as an associated member, that will open up many more doors and many more opportunities for us to actually increase the funding.

Particularly in terms where logistics are concerned, in terms of staging events is where the struggles have been over the years. And you have seen the developments recently. There have been many, many uphill struggles for us, so Im hoping from here that the Paralympics movement and the Deaflympics will work more closely together, along the same path with the same goals and aspirations. Manny You say that it would be a good idea for deaf sport to go back into the IPC umbrella as an associate, so not quite there, but why not just become a full member? Because you would be associated with all the media and all the sponsorship that comes with being a member of the Paralympic movement. Craig Yes that is right, but I think you have to appreciate, perhaps, the history that were talking about here. I think we need stepping stones to get along to this point. Its been quite a delicate procedure, we need to develop the reputation. Because the reputation really has been damaged over the years, but what we need to do is take those steps along the way, to foster those good strong working relationships. I think thats a step forward in terms of associated membership. But we need to keep the Deaflympics idea, the Deaflympics theme, going throughout all this. Andy But before any of that happens, it has to be made completely clear that deaf peoples equality at those games is completely respected. We dont want deaf people to be competing at the Paralympic games but feeling as if theyre some kind of second-class athlete who doesnt have the same access to everything thats going on. Attention has to be paid to how we can make deaf athletes equal in the Paralympics and not just look at it from a purely competitive perspective but whats the experience like for those athletes who are going to compete. Manny Why wouldnt they feel equal? Andy Mainly its going to be the communication barrier. Craig And to add to that too, as president, I was invited to both the Olympics and Paralympics in 2012, and I could see the efforts that were made by both those organisations to improve communication and accessibility, I would have to say that they were not offered on a full basis though. So from the deaf athletes taking part in those Paralympic games with other disabilities, I received quite a lot of feedback that they felt they were treated like second class citizens at such events, whether athletes or spectators. Thats why we need to maintain the Deaflympics ideal, the Deaflympics movement and work together with those organisations to develop that progress. Caroline Its a long process to come back under the IPC banner. Is that one of the sticking points? 3

Craig Ive asked those questions of the IPC for such a long time and yes it is a slow process. But it is a process that we have to follow because it is so important. You have to remember that the IPC has been bitten really. Im sure they feel once bitten, twice shy so I dont think theyre prepared really to do that. I can see potentially where thats gone with the new president. Hopefully things can move forward under the same sort of banner. I dont think the new President will follow the same strategy that we were looking to employ because perhaps, with a great deal of respect, he may be seen as old school, as looking to preserve his ideals and the ideals as he sees them for the ICSD. What Im hoping though is that the President will recognise that its vitally important to include all countries in the Deaflympics, all on a par, wherever possible. Andy Craig makes a good point about the historical element of it and the IPC being wary about working with deaf sports organisations again. But from my perspective and the perspective probably of a lot of deaf people and parents of deaf children who are looking to get into deaf sports, the longer this goes on, the longer the funding isnt there or the recognition for deaf athletes, generations of children who could be getting better access to sports, better access to communication to improve their game, lose those opportunities. And I hope that those organisations try and look to the future, rather than looking backwards at the previous issue and look to the future. And its an important point that the Olympic movement has a commitment to equality and in their statement they say any form of discrimination with regard to any gender, race or anything else is incompatible to belonging with the Olympic movement and the longer this goes on, the more it seems like to deaf people, or deaf sports people or youngsters, that there is an element of discrimination against the deaf athletes. Craig I would agree entirely with Andys comments there. Im speaking from both from a UK perspective and an international level. Were no different to many of the 100 or so countries that have been mentioned about the lack of recognition of deaf athletes, the visibility isnt there. Its a great tragedy for me. And essentially, we have missed the boat. There is an opportunity that has been missed where the IPC has gone on a particular track and we need to get back with them, very, very quickly. The opportunity is there, as Andy actually said, it would be a crying shame if that opportunity is missed. Caroline The former President of the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf, Craig Crowley, and Assistant Editor of deaf news website, The Limping Chicken, Andy Palmer.

We did request a response from the International Paralympic Committee to Craig Crowleys comments, and we are awaiting their response. As for the 2015 Winter Deaflympics, theyll take place in Russia in February next year. (Segment Ends)

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