A deaf Nova Scotia curler is looking to raise awareness of the sport as an option for people with hearing problems.
Emma Logan, now 26, lost her hearing at 13 months due to meningitis. She’s been curling since she was 11. An elite player, she represented Nova Scotia at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in 2020 and 2021.
“For young folks who are deaf and hard of hearing, it’s something that I would love to see more of an uptake in,” said Logan. “There is not any program for it here on the East Coast, but it’s my dream to see that come true.”
Logan uses a hearing aid and had cochlear implant surgery when she was three years old. Using these devices has helped her play on traditional teams.
Communication is a vital part of curling, especially given how noisy the rinks can be and the distance between teammates.
It was only in the last decade that Logan learned curling was an option for teams made up of deaf players.
The teams use a mixture of sign language, hand signals and lip reading to communicate with each other.
Logan is the skip of a national team that was supposed to go to the Winter Deaflympics next month in Turkey, but the Canadian Deaf Sports Association withdrew Canada’s participation because of geopolitical uncertainty in the Middle East.
While there’s a national deaf sports association, some provinces have provincial deaf sports associations, such as Alberta and Manitoba.
“The more east you go, the less a provincial body is present,” said Logan.
Logan said playing on teams with hearing athletes and deaf ones is a different experience.
“When I’m participating with hearing athletes, it feels like I’m constantly trying to figure out how I can keep up with those who can receive and give communication so easily,” she said. “And for me, there is a clear gap in what information I can naturally receive or through traditional mode of communication, so as a team we’re trying to fill that gap.”
Logan has nothing but kind words for her past teammates, noting they have always been patient, kind and understanding.
But with her deaf teammates, there’s a deeper connection.
“To be able to enjoy the game at the extent that I do, alongside three women who have shared experiences of being deaf and hard of hearing, it’s a place to really connect with the sport and beyond the sport,” she said.
“It’s added a whole other layer of meaning to the game.”
Working to diversify sport
Virginia Jackson, executive director of the Nova Scotia Curling Association, said the organization is trying to make the sport more inclusive. She said they have players from five to 95 and are working with marginalized groups, such as Black and Indigenous communities, to make the sport more inclusive.
“There could be people out there who have certain restrictions that they feel they can’t participate, and curling is one of those sports that we can accommodate you,” she said.
Jackson said if people have a restriction, they should contact the association, which will find an option for them. She said there are 33 curling clubs in the province.
“They would welcome them in and they would do whatever they could to make the experience positive for any individual,” she said.