USADSF Signs Brighton Declaration
By Chris Kaftan
In a historic event, the USA Deaf Sports Federation has become the first national deaf sports organization in the world to endorse the Brighton Declaration on Women and Sport, an international document that affirms women’s right to equality in sport.
The Jan. 28 ceremony at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C., was a collaboration with the office of the Honorable Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.). The event featured speakers from the deaf sports community and the International Working Group on Women and Sport (IWG), including USADSF President Jack Lamberton and WomenSport International vice president Dr. Carole Oglesby.
“By endorsing the Brighton Declaration, USADSF affirms its commitment to providing equal opportunities for deaf girls and women in all areas of our organization,” Lamberton said after the ceremony.
Supporters of deaf sport and women in the sports watched as Lamberton used his ceremonial pen to sign the Brighton Declaration. Oglesby, as a representative of IWG; Dr. Donalda Ammons, past president of the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf; and Dr. Becky Clark, USADSF board member, also signed the declaration, which was first adopted in 1994 by the IWG.
“I am proud that the USADSF has taken the important step of signing the Brighton Declaration,” said Langevin, co-chair of the Olympic and Paralympic Caucus in the U.S. Congress. “Deaf girls and women deserve the same opportunities to participate that all athletes have. Inclusiveness is important at all levels of sports, and I applaud this important declaration.”
Shirley Platt, former executive director of USADSF, spoke about how former USADSF president Dr. Lawrence R. Fleischer’s vision included gender equality without question and never as an afterthought.
“It is long past time that the deaf sports world understands gender equity is no longer an option,” Platt said. “Women in sports are no longer afterthoughts. We are out there in the forefront, and we are here to stay. No more second-best or ‘good-enough’ fields, gyms, courts, lockers, officials, schedules, statistics, recordkeeping, and media coverage.”
Ammons shared her experience as a teenage athlete.
“At the age of 14, I had the determination and driving force to form a girls’ basketball team where I had the opportunity to play for two years before graduating,” she said. “I went on to play varsity basketball and swimming at college.”
“The USADSF signing ceremony (is) definitely a historic milestone,” Ammons said.
Clark, who was instrumental in getting the USADSF to endorse the Brighton Declaration, declared the signing a milestone in increasing opportunities and bringing positive changes for deaf and hard of hearing women at all levels of sport.
In addition to her role with USADSF, Clark co-chairs the newly established WomenSport International Task Force on Deaf/HOH Girls & Women in Sport. Ammons is the other co-chair.
The roster of speakers at the endorsement ceremony also included Dr. Caroline Solomon, a two-time Deaflympian, and two young female athletes, Crystal Salit and Hanna Johnston-Shaw.
Lamberton said at the conclusion of the program that USADSF does not plan to stop with the signing.
“We plan to further improve and strengthen our outreach, programs and services for deaf and hard of hearing females,” Lamberton said. “One area we are specifically targeting is recruiting and training deaf women for leadership positions.”