Communicating on the court

Posted on 09 February 2018
Communicating on the court

While Geelong netball star Tina Birch won Gold and Silver medals at the Deaf Games in Albury-Wodonga, her passion is building an inclusive community at her local sporting clubs.

The 27-year-old is one of the leaders of her team and dominates the court in Goal Shooter and Goal Attack positions.

Outside of her Deaf Games team, Tina is passionate about working with her local club to establish ways to communicate on the court. It's sometimes a challenge, but they have developed strategies, including clapping, waving or using other players. The most effective is getting in her line of sight.

"My local club, Ocean Grove Football and Netball Club, have always treated me fairly. I am just another player during selections and at training," she said.

Tina reads lips; she is oral and she speaks Auslan. Having an interpreter available helps develop communication in the team.

At the Deaf Games, Auslan speaking players know they have to look at each other to sign because reading lips, in non-deaf teams, can be a challenge.

"In the deaf world we all have to look at each other to sign. We understand we can't look away," Tina said.

Tina lost her hearing as an infant due to meningitis. She has been involved in sport from a young age, encouraged by watching her family play.

When it comes to people's attitudes about people with disability playing sport, Tina said, "It is improving within communities, depending on the knowledge of a disability."

"Since learning Auslan I have found it so much easier when I am with other deaf people," Tina said.

Tina's advice for other people with disability, wanting to get into sport is, "Keep fighting, keep trying and don't give up."

The annual deaf games recognises every person has the right to be part of an inclusive, welcoming community where contributions are recognised and valued.

The Deaf Games has been running for more than 100 years. It features 20 diverse sports and has 1,000 people with disability participating.

For more information, or to get involved, visit the deaf games website (external).