Deaflympics in Taiwan

The Deaflympics will the be largest multi-sport event ever held in Taiwan and Taipei City is determined to make everything function as smoothly as possible. More than 4,000 athletes have registered, as have around 1,300 coaches, officials, medical personnel, and translators. This represents a 50 percent-plus increase over the 2,400 participants in the previous Deaflympics, which were held in Melbourne, Australia, in 2005.

“The Deaflympics are not exclusively for deaf people; to participate, athletes must have “a hearing loss of at least 55db in their better ear.” In fact, hearing-impaired people sometimes live, not in a world of total silence, but with a disorientating and frightening cacophony of partially audible sounds set against a partially deafening thunder”

“The Games organizers have been using the upcoming Deaflympics to promote the learning of sign language and better understanding of hearing loss and other disabilities through a deaf-awareness program in Taiwan”

After great efforts at harmonization and compromise, there is currently emerging some kind of consensus around International Sign, an attempt to create an “Esperanto for the hearing impaired.” So far it is too limited to be called a language — it is more of a pidgin sign language — but it is used for adjudication and inter-nation communication at the Deaflympics. As for the starter’s pistol and referee’s whistle of other sports, these are replaced by flashing lights and the use of flags, respectively.

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