Have you ever watched a match of deaf basketball players? I haven’t run across any match because it’s an underrating area of basketball in traditional media or on social media like wheelchair basketball. But what if we tried to look closer and saw the passion inside the hearts and determination inside the minds of deaf athletes?

First, let’s get to know the deaf basketball with details.

Deaf International Basketball Federation (DIBF) is the governing body and the sole competent authority for deaf basketball around the world. DIBF is recognised of the Fédération Internationale de Basketball (FIBA). It is a non-profit-making organisation whose purpose is to provide opportunities for persons with a lower limb disability to play the game of deaf basketball and does not pursue any objective for its own gains. The federation is subject through the FIBA General Statutes to the laws of Switzerland. It pursues solely and directly objectives of general interest in accordance with the laws of Switzerland. All the international contests and championships are conducted by DIBF in cooperation with the ICSD (The International Committee of Sports for the Deaf) and its confederations. (DIBF General Statues, 2019)

Here are some different points when deaf basketball is compared to hearing basketball:

  • Using hearing aids or cochlear implants is absolutely forbidden during deaf basketball competitions. It is seen as an unfair advantage by the ICSD. If a player breaks the rule, he/she will be taken out from the game and there will be no permission to return.
  • Sign language is used to communicate with each other. Most of the basketball teams use American Sign Language.
  • If it is possible, referees must have their FIBA licence for deaf basketball. The countries involved in competition have permission to bring two referees with them at its own expense. It is preferred that at least one of the referees of countries is deaf.
  • The game flows slower than hearing basketball because referees use sign language when they make a call.
  • Crowds also use sign language to cheer and give instruction instead of verbal language.

During games, players look at their coaches and each other, maintaining eye contact. Facial expressions, body language and hand signals are building stones of the communication on the court. Deaf players are more prone to observing and reading body language. Actually, it’s also an important communication way for hearing players to be coherent with teammates and to get the best results. The players should be open for visual cues at any time during the game.

Lance Allred – Credit: @lanceallred41 on Twitter

Lance Allred, the NBA player who hears impaired and has 70-80 percent hearing loss, has made the basketball more popular among deaf people. He played for Cleveland Cavaliers and he has a big contribution to Team USA to take the second place in the 2002 World Deaf Basketball Championship in Athens, Greece.

Cagla Nur Uzundurukan – Credit: basketbolgundem.com

Cagla Nur Uzundurukan is one of the passionate athletes who has succeeded to be the first deaf player of Women’s Basketball Super League in Turkey. She was elected as the Best Guard of the World in 2018. Tamika Catchings is another great example. She played for the Indiana Fever in the WNBA and the U.S. Women’s Olympic team. She is 2011 WNBA MVP and nine-time WNBA All-Star player. 

The world has great stories, so if media gives a place to those players and teams, it would be easier to get support for them. Deaf people all around the world would see those role models and gain self-confidence to overcome the difficulties in their lives. To become a basketball player or anyone else, he/she would make an effort.

Sports are more than traditional perceptions. It is a powerful tool to show the world who you are and what you are capable of.


  1. BRACKETT, K., 2017, This is how deaf basketball player to communicate on court, https://www.hearinglikeme.com/deaf-basketball-players-communicate-court/
  2. DIBF, 2019, General statues, http://www.dibf.org/about-us/organization/general-statutes-and-internal-regulations/
  3. Drive to the basket: Hearing loss can’t block the shot, https://www.earq.com/hearing-health/articles/basketball-players-with-hearing-loss
  4. FANATİK GAZETESİ, 2020, İşitme engelliler basketbol milli takımı sponsor sıkıntısı çekiyor, https://www.fanatik.com.tr/isitme-engelliler-basketbol-milli-takimi-sponsor-sikintisi-cekiyor-2145554
  5. PAGE, C., 2014, Deaf basketball vs. hearing basketball, https://prezi.com/xkgajeb4ctjj/deaf-basketball-vs-hearing-basketball/
  6. STEINBERG, D., 2017, The nation’s only deaf men’s college basketball team, on the verge of its march madness https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dc-sports-bog/wp/2017/02/24/the-nations-only-deaf-mens-college-basketball-team-is-on-the-verge-of-its-first-march-madness/
  7. WOOD, R., 2014, Deaf basketball the sport https://www.topendsports.com/sport/list/basketball-deaf.htm