Teresa Garratty: Deafness is not a barrier when it comes to physical activity

Posted on October 3, 2016

It’s time for another blog/vlog, feel free to read, watch or both you greedy little things!

You might remember, not so long ago a story about a group of Deaf people being refused entry into Go Ape, due to the fact that they’re…well…Deaf.

Teresa has also made a subtitled video to go with her article, which you can view below:

Can a deaf person “Go Ape”? from TG Film & Photo on Vimeo.

Naturally, as a deaf person this really got my goat.



Not just for the general discrimination but also, for the really poor excuse behind it.



Health and safety. It seems to be the “get out of jail free card” that all companies go to when they’re not quite sure if they ‘have to’ include the deaf or disabled and in this case, it’s most definitely bull crap.


I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve participated in many potentially dangerous activities/sports and still managed to not die in the process, in spite of my “debilitating” deafness.

I’ve been rock climbing in Malaysia, with the help of two instructors. Oh and by the way, they were Malaysian and didn’t speak a lot of English. Did the communication barrier lead to certain death? No, it didn’t. In fact I got to the top first and watched as the hearies struggled to join me.


I also learnt to scuba dive in Indonesia, this time the instructors weren’t local…they were German though, with accents to match and it’s probably worth noting that you can’t wear hearing aids underwater. So I basically learnt everything by watching very carefully and repeating until it was right.

So, when it came to swapping the practice pool for the deep dark ocean, did I face imminent death?


I instead had a blast and looked at a lot of coral. My hearing partner on the other hand nearly drowned after about 5 minutes in the water and had to be rescued.



The point I’m trying to make here is that deafness is not a barrier when it comes to physical activity and even during times when I’ve had to follow instructions, I’ve managed to do so without hearing.

Go Ape made an apology on their website explaining that the reason they turned the deaf group away was because it would be dangerous for them as no one would hear the radio, but let’s be realistic. Radios can fail, they can run out of battery or break and hearing people are just as capable of “not listening” as deaf people.

If (and that’s a big IF) the aerial assault course is in fact THAT dangerous, then NO ONE should be allowed to do it unsupervised. If all it takes is one little radio to draw the line between what is safe and what is a potential threat to someone’s health/life then hearies should be given the same overprotective, B.S. excuses as deaf people.

We all have the potential to not follow/mishear/ignore an instruction, so is this REALLY an issue of health and safety? Or is this just another company freaking out due to their own lack of deaf awareness?


Now, if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go and buy a magical radio that makes me invulnerable to falling from a great height.



Read more of Teresa’s posts (with cartoons!) by clicking here.

Teresa is a freelance film maker, photographer and full time cynic. At school, she was voted “Most likely to end up in a lunatic asylum”, a fate which has thus far been avoided. Her pet hates are telephones, intercoms and all living things.

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