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USA Deaf Sports Information

  • Synopsis: Published: 2013-08-29 (Revised/Updated 2015-11-18) - Information regarding Deaf Sporting organizations and events in America including USADSF and the Deaflympics. For further information pertaining to this article contact: Thomas C. Weiss at Disabled World.

Main Document

Quote: "You can join the USADSF as a supporter or a participant in a sporting event sanctioned by a National Sport Organization (NSO)"

The Akron Club of the Deaf in Ohio sponsored the first national basketball tournament in the year 1945, establishing the American Athletic Union of the Deaf. The organization was later renamed the, 'American Athletic Association of the Deaf,' and in the year 1997 became the USA Deaf Sports Federation (USADSF). The Federation's purpose is to foster and regulate uniform rules of competition, provide social outlets for deaf members and their friends, serve as a parent organization of national sports organizations, conduct annual athletic competitions, and to assist in the participation of US Teams in international competitions.

The USADSF is recognized as the only national athletic association to coordinate the participation of American deaf and hard of hearing people in international competitions. It is affiliated with the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf and has hosted the Summer Deaflympics in the years 1965 and 1985, the Winter Deaflympics in 1975 and 2007. The Federation has also published a quarterly newspaper, 'AAAD Bulletin,' since the year 1948 and established the Hall of Fame in the year 1952. Starting in the year 1955, Athletes of the Year have been selected annually.

USADSF Athletes

Athletes for the USADF all experience some form of hearing loss and are united on USADSF's national teams through shared experiences and challenges. The athletes, both in the past and through current participation, play important roles as ambassadors within the United States and around the world. They serve - actively or by example, as role models for deaf and hard of hearing young people across the nation.

The coaches who participate in the USADSF guide by example. They inspire and fight for the athletes, hope for the best, and lead them to victory. The coaches for the Federation are united in the mission that deaf and hard of hearing athletes are equal to their hearing counterparts and bring experiences and challenges to the team they coach.

Who is Eligible to Participate in the USADSF

For an athlete to be eligible for participation in the USADSF and competitions for the deaf and hard of hearing, they must have a hearing loss of 55 decibels (dB) or greater in the better ear, three frequency pure tone average at 500, 1000, and 2000 Hertz (Hz). For purposes of competition; however, the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf does not classify athletes according to their degree of hearing loss. Everyone with a hearing loss of 55dB or greater in their better ear can compete against each other.

USA Deaf Sports Federation (USADSF) is a National Association member of the ICSD and complies with the Deaflympics regulations prohibiting the use of cochlear implant aids or hearing aids during any sanctioned competitions. The Federation exercises its coordinating authority with each National Sport Organization to develop and approve procedures for the selection of athletes to represent America in international competitions.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognizes the ICSD as the only organization responsible for the administration of all sporting events involving athletes who are deaf or hard of hearing. Conditions in the Deaflympics are similar to the ones in the Olympic Games. The Games Preparation Committee, which is a standing committee of the Federation, coordinates with the Executive Board and each National Sport Organization to organize and prepare the USA Teams for the Deaflympics, PANAMDES Games, and the World Championships. Athletes and coaches are selected based upon parameters and requirements that are outlined in each of a sport's Athlete and Coach Selection Criteria.

The USADSF is Involved in Flag Football Too

You can join up and play flag football by contacting on of the officers. You can join either as a free agent, or as a team. The best person to contact is the Secretary. You can have your team participate in a future USFFD Super Bowl by contacting the Secretary and providing them with your organization's name, address, and a contact person.

USFFD is absolutely a national level sport. Teams from across America have participated. Some of the teams participate in leagues in their hometowns and enter USFTL tournaments. You can call your team anything you wish to. Women can play too; in fact - women's teams made a comeback at the 16th Super bowl. The most popular format is 4 X 4 because it requires fewer players to organize a team. Teams from other countries can participate as well. The USFFD uses United States Flag and Touch League's playing rules and requires referees to be certified by USFTL.

Fans are most welcome! You can contact the local host city for fan and tournament information. The USFFD encourages fans to cheer for their teams in USFFD Super Bowls and believes in making the tournament weekend affordable for fans.

Membership in the USADSF

You can join the USADSF as a supporter or a participant in a sporting event sanctioned by a National Sport Organization (NSO). If you participate through an NSO, contact the NSO for its membership application form and information or use the form through the USADSF website. Each NSO is responsible for maintaining its own internal membership list annually. The membership through the Federation is one year, according to its bylaws. Members receive membership renewal notices directly from the Federation and are limited to supporters, Board members and Committee members.

Volunteering and the USADSF

The USADSF and all of the experiences the organization has provided to hundred of athletes have been and continue to be the result of volunteerism. Starting with Art Kruger, who formed the U.S. Team and provided a warm embrace through four decades, USADSF has been driven by volunteers from the bottom all the way to the top. Annual estimates show volunteer hours exceed $1 million when taken as in-kind contributions. Without these contributions, the USADSF just wouldn't be the organization it is now. The USADSF is a registered 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization and all contributions are tax-deductible.

Chart showing areas open for Volunteering with the USADSF
About This Image: Chart showing areas open for Volunteering with the USADSF
How can you volunteer There are a number of ways:

Team Support: Team support may involve things that vary from coaching to providing medical services; managing a team's budget to travel or paperwork.

Event Coordination: Event coordination can involve helping with admissions to managing entire events or even selling refreshments.

Committee Service: Committee service involves lending expertise on standing or an ad hoc committee.

Development: Development involves helping with the creation of fundraising campaigns and/or using professional or personal ties to identify foundations and corporations that could offer in-kind support.

What you put into your experiences many times offer instant rewards. A number of people who volunteer do it for their family members, friends, or their community. They have found that doing so is so enriching they continue. If you have time, spend it by interacting with people on committees, providing hospitality at tournaments, or anything to make community-building experiences possible. You are an incredibly important part of deaf sports and the possibilities for volunteerism are as great as your ability to imagine.

USA Deaf Sports

All deaf and hard of hearing individuals with a hearing loss of 55dB or greater in the better ear are eligible. The use of hearing aids is prohibited in competitions. USA Team participants must be American citizens and members of the Federation in good standing.

Athlete Selection Criteria

The minimum athlete standards that all criteria must include are found in the attached PDF links provided for each sport. Athlete criteria are updated on a regular basis, pending approval by the NSO and the USADSF Executive Board.


  • Deaf International Short Course Swimming Championships
  • 7th Berg/Seeger Classic
  • 2014 GPSD Championships
  • 2014 ESDAA Championships

Related Information:

  1. Disabled World: Deaflympics International Games for the Deaf
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