Teaching Deaf Fencers?

Discussion in 'Fencing Discussion' started by Sarah T., Mar 12, 2018.

  1. Sarah T.

    Sarah T. Rookie

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    Hello,

    I just completed a beginner fencing class and have decided to continue fencing in an advanced class. I didn't actually tell the instructors that I was deaf until more than half way through the beginner class so I missed a lot of the spoken instruction. I realize now that I want to continue with fencing this was not a good idea. I lost my hearing when I was 22 and I speak as if I am a hearing person. Most people think I am just a really quiet person because I don't interact as much as others when in groups of people.

    Now that I am in the advanced class I really want to get serious about learning and get the most out of the class as possible. For the advanced class the instructor works one-on-one with people while others in the class fence. I can't hear the instructor and depending on the lighting and angle I am looking at him, I can't always see his lips through the mask. Even if I can see his lips it is still really hard to read lips through a fencing mask.

    I am looking for suggestions on what the instructor and I can do to communicate better. I am looking for ideas other than having the instructor take his mask off every time he talks to me. I feel like that is to much for him to do, taking his mask off every few minutes. I'm pretty sure the instructor will work with me on a different way to communicate but I hate asking for accommodations due to being deaf so I don't want to ask too much from him.

    In any other situation I rely on lip reading or captions/written words. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you!
     
  2. keropie

    keropie Podium

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    Initially, I expect that the instructor will have to take of his/her mask every few minutes, unless they know ASL. A large amount of fencing is cued response, which will not require verbal communication, but as new tactics/techniques are introduced and refined, communication is typically necessary. When I give lessons to someone I've worked with for some time, there may only be 10-15 words said in a 20 minute lessons. But again, if there is new content or a new fencer, 30% of the lesson (or more) could be discussion.

    Certainly the best thing it to be upfront about it ASAP. That way you and the coach/instructor can work out a reasonable accommodation. I did find this article that may be interesting, and has links to another article (behind a paywall) that may also be interesting: http://www.jennifergibson.ca/blog/fencing-with-deaf-athletes
     
    InFerrumVeritas and Gav like this.
  3. Purple Fencer

    Purple Fencer Podium

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    One of our local high school coaches has a deaf member on his team. I'll PM you his email addy so you can contact him directly.
     
  4. Steve P

    Steve P Rookie

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  5. Ancientepee

    Ancientepee Podium

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    There are probably only a few concepts that need to be communicated most of the time like "smaller", "higher", "lower", "slower", "faster", "closer", etc. You can either try to teach the coach the ASL signs for them or use a sign that the coach comes up with. Most of the words in spoken instructions are there only for grammatical reasons and so instead of saying "You should be closer to me before executing this action that I'm teaching you", signing "closer" should be enough.

    With these cases taken care of, many of the other needs for spoken instruction can be handled through physical demonstration. For example, the coach mimics how you are performing an action and then shows how you should be doing it. Or the coach has you freeze in the middle of an action and the moves your hand to the correct position. Or the coach can indicate such things that your shoulder is too tight by tapping your shoulder with his/her weapon.

    This should minimize the occasions when the mask needs to be taken off or lifted so that you can lipread. You should make the fact that you're deaf known to the coach before you begin to make sure that he/she is willing to take these actions.

    The 1964 Olympic women foil individual champion, Ildiko Ujlaki-Rejto of Hungary, was born deaf. Her coaches communicated to her by writing instructions on pieces of paper. She competed in five Olympics (1960, 1964, 1968, 1972, and 1976) and won two gold, three silver, and two bronze medals.
     
  6. jdude97

    jdude97 Podium

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    Fencing like chess is a language in and of itself. Despite having about 5 words in common due to speaking different languages, my uncle gave me a full fencing lesson when I visited him in Europe. It was a bit rough in sometimes he got frustrated because I wasn't understanding but he could generally motion or demonstrate the necessary actions, and then go yes/no/come closer/go farther/etc. It was a really cool experience. I'm confident if we had regular lessons I'd learn to understand him perfectly well in the context of the lesson.
     
  7. Zebra

    Zebra Podium

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    At the NAC this weekend I had coaches speaking Korean, Spanish, and Body English, and they were all chattering a mile a minute.
     

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