Overcoming Obstacles: Is It Possible to Do Sports with a Hearing Loss Condition?

In today’s world, athletes are able to make their mark in sports, even if they have a disability. Many athletes play at a highly competitive level with hearing loss conditions. While hearing is a vital part of many sports, it does not determine whether an athlete can compete. In some sports, athletes can wear special gear, like affordable but feature-packed hearing aids, that help them hear their coaches and teammates, without enhancing their ability to play.

These are a few things athletes with hearing loss conditions can do to perform at a competitive and even elite level:

1. Coaches can use a mini-microphone

Athletes with hearing loss who use cochlear implants or hearing aids, benefit from coaches using mini-microphones at the sidelines. The mini-mic puts the coach’s voice directly into the hearing aid. Assistive listening devices like this help in sports like soccer or softball, where coaches deliver a message from a distance.

2. Athletes can wear a hearing aid

Some athletes who have hearing loss conditions do not wear hearing aids when they are maneuvering the world of work or school. But, when it comes to sports, having a boost of sound can help. While it does not enhance performance, it helps athletes hear what is happening around them and on the sidelines. Fortunately, there are affordable options that athletes can wear on a part-time basis.

3. Encourage teammates to communicate in huddles

The original huddle was developed by a man who had hearing loss. In 1892, Paul Hubbard who was the quarterback of the football team at Gallaudet University used the huddle to communicate via sign language. The formation prevents the opposing team from learning about the other team’s plans. It also allows people who are hard of hearing to get close enough to hear, read lips, or see signs. Teams of all types can use the huddle for effective coaching and planning.

4. Coaches can use signs when communicating from a distance

While many athletes work hard to communicate in the hearing world, there are times when signs can be helpful. If a mini-microphone is not available, coaches and athletes can develop signs that let them communicate from a distance. In sports like baseball and softball, signs are an essential part of the game for the entire team. In other sports, like soccer, tennis, or football coaches can offer signs to all of the players. By doing this, no players are singled out for their disabilities.

5. Find what works for the athlete

In sports like swimming and gymnastics, athletes cannot wear hearing aids while competing. They just don’t stay in. So, to compensate, swimmers use strobe lights when they cannot hear the starting gun. Gymnasts often use music with heavy bass so they can feel the beat during their floor routines. The key for athletes with hearing loss is to communicate with their coaches and teammates so everyone knows what accommodations are needed to find success. From hand signs to huddles, there is something available to help athletes succeed.

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