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Hearing Aids and Cochlear Implants Not Allowed

Hearing Aids and Cochlear Implants Not Allowed!

Editor: I’ve been around long enough that I don’t shock easily. But this letter regarding the banning of hearing aids and cochlear implants at the Deaf Golf Championships really threw me for a loop – until I realized that it must be a hoax! So I checked it out and was astonished to learn that it’s FOR REAL! Don’t believe it? Check it out for yourself at http://www.deaflympics.com/sports/regulations.asp?ID=3 (See Item J.)

You may sign the referenced petition at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/239862263


Lauri writes:

I am a serious and very good golfer. My handicap is 10. I love competition and I love to win. Last year for the first time I entered the U.S. Deaf Golf Championships. I was told that I could not wear hearing aids during the tournament. I was shocked. I immediately felt discriminated against. Here is my story.

My name is Lauri and I live in Michigan. I am profoundly deaf, 90 dB loss, and have been since birth. I wear only one hearing aid, on my right ear, due to a disorder called recruitment. I have worn a hearing aid on this ear since early childhood but because of the severity of my hearing loss I still have to read lips to understand what people are saying.

In July of 2003 I went to the U.S. Deaf Golf Championships in Pinehurst, North Carolina. It was my first time entering the tournament. On the first day of the tournament, one of the committee told me that I could not wear hearing aids. I was shocked and upset. I was trying to focus my mind on getting ready to play golf instead of being upset. I asked her, “Why?” She said, “Because we now come under The Committee International Sports for the Deaf (CISS) rules and regulations.” I flew all the way to North Carolina and paid to rent a Condo along with a couple of deaf friends, and now you are telling me that I cannot wear hearing aids. Her reply was “It’s in the entry form”. I never found this regulation in the entry. She knew I was quite upset so she went to talk to the officers. When she returned I was told that they will allow me to wear hearing aids this time, but next time I would not be able to.

Fortunately I made the top five and therefore qualified to represent the U.S. Women’s team at the Deaf World Golf Championships, to be played in Stockholm Sweden in July of this year. I was quite upset when I was informed that we were not allowed to wear hearing aids during the Deaf World Golf Championships, also because they now come under CISS rules and regulations. I had to drop out the U.S. Women team. I accessed the CISS now renamed to CISS/Deaflympics Regulations on the Internet and found the regulations under General Information, item J, which reads:

“Athletes taking part in the Deaf World Championships shall be forbidden from using any hearing aids or cochlear implant aids during competitions.”

I do not understand this rule. If a deaf person chooses not to use hearing aids for their entire life, then they participate in activities without hearing the associated sounds. They play golf without hearing the sound of hitting the ball. Their learned skills are developed by using other sensory perceptions. On the other hand, a deaf person who chooses to wear hearing aids uses the sounds of hitting the ball to help orient themselves. In a tournament played under the above regulations, who would have an advantage? A person playing under their normal circumstances or a person made to play under unfamiliar ones? The same regulations also state that deaf would be defined as a hearing loss of “at least 55dB” That means a person without a hearing aid and a 55db hearing loss could actually have better hearing than a profoundly deaf person with a hearing aid. If a person has a 55dB loss, they can hear something without hearing aids. It’s still an advantage over someone with a 90dB loss. I feel that this rule is unfair because it gives an advantage to one player over another and is discriminatory. Would you not permit a person to wear glasses? Would you not permit a person with prosthesis to play in the game?

Because of this outdated and unfair rule I felt compelled to relinquish my place on the U.S. Women’s golf team. Again, I am a deaf person who has chosen the OPTION to wear hearing aids. I should not be discriminated against for that choice. The sad and unfortunate fact is that this discrimination is being levied by an organization that certainly should know better and be more understanding about new technology and its impact on options for deaf people. Children are learning to listen and speak using hearing aids and cochlear implants all over this country.

Until the United States and World Deaf Golf Championship are included in the CISS/Deaflympics I believe its rules and regulations should be kept separate. I believe that it is time for us to move forward and not dwell in the traditions of the past. After all this is the 21st Century and we have made great progress in minimizing acts of discrimination.

I corresponded with the President of CISS/Deaflympics about this situation last September. She replied back and recommended that if I wished for this rule to change I would have to ask the U.S. Deaf Golf Foundation to submit a proposal to World Deaf Golf Federation (WDGF) who would then submit it to her. She would then put it on the agenda for discussion at the January 2005 Congress in Melbourne. I complied with these directions and contacted the President of the U.S. Deaf Golf Foundation, his reply was as follows:

During its annual meeting on October 9, the U.S. Deaf Golf Foundation (USDGF) Board of Directors discussed the issue of not allowing competing deaf and hard of hearing golfers to wear hearing aids nor cochlear implants at the U.S. Deaf Golf Championships and the World Deaf Golf Championships. This rule has been in effect for many years with the USA Deaf Sports Federation (USADSF), of which USDGF is a national sports organization, and ComitÃ(c) International des Sports des Sourds, CISS (The International Committee of Sports for the Deaf). The USADSF is affiliated with CISS. Also, USADSF is affiliated with the World Deaf Golf Federation (WDGF). The USDGF Board has decided not to take further action on this issue. We intend to fully enforce this requirement for those who participate in future U.S. Deaf Golf Championships, as well as the World Deaf Golf Championships. However, we encourage you to express your views directly with USADSF, WDGF, and CISS.

I was surprised and very disappointed at his response. I spoke to a lawyer who works for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and civil rights about rejecting hearing aids/cochlear implant during U.S. Deaf Golf Championships. I believe that they broke ADA law because we are playing in the United States. He said, “They are non-profit organizational, which means they can make whatever rules they want to.”

I am not giving up my rights. I can’t live without my hearing aids. It is a part of my life. They should not be allowed remove a part of me. The next United States Deaf Golf Championships will be held in July of 2005. The top five scorers will qualify for the World Deaf Golf Championship in Edmonton, Canada in 2006. I need your support so please contact these organizations. You can reach the President of United States Deaf Golf Foundation and the President of CISS/Deaflympics. Please feel free to submit any questions or comments; you can reach me at supporthrngaids@aol.com.