(Deaf and hard of hearing Educational Athletic Foundation) is the only
program in the history of our sport which teaches life's lessons to hearing impaired
youth through tennis. Our Program transcends sport. Rather than trophies, we would prefer that
our results produce happy, well adjusted & good people. We provide this underserved population an opportunity to learn and practice a life-long physical activity in a pro-social environment. The
development of the DhhEAF Program aims to expose young, hearing impaired people
to the ideas of teamwork and self-discipline that can lead to success in other
aspects of their lives. Our Program is free and we reach about 200 students/year.
World-citizen Helen Keller profoundly noted, “My blindness separates me from things,
but my deafness separates me from people.”
Because ASL syntax does not follow the same rules as English grammar, DHH students encounter various communication challenges. And since DHH students are usually bussed to a
centralized school, there are no friends in their own neighborhood who can communicate via ASL. It’s no wonder
that a Deaf child's world can be extremely lonely and isolated.
No buzzers, bells, whistles, or
play-calling makes tennis a perfect game for the DHH and it is also a
vehicle where they can connect with others, forever. However, because of
communication challenges and a lack of skilled instructors, they will never be a demographic group which will be targeted by the tennis industry. Additionally, current affordability is not
feasible because most of our students are from inner city, low income
families. Therefore, the DhhEAF Program
is the only way many of our students will ever be exposed to tennis AND receive
In our DhhEAF classes, hearing aids and cochlear implants are the norm rather than the uncomfortable exception. And tennis is an equalizer. The Deaf students take note that everyone has similar skill-set challenges in learning to play tennis. With guidance, they realize the satisfaction of learning and gain self-confidence with improvement.
Students appreciate that tennis can be a lifetime socialization activity, a fitness/health maintenance vehicle and an instrument to preserve and better understand Deaf Culture. We seek to affect academic improvements, good citizenship qualities, and self-esteem enhancement. Benefits can be extrapolated into better mental & physical health, & enhanced employment skills. Because language doesn’t matter, the universal rules of tennis can foster friendship and inclusion for the DHH anywhere they live for the rest of their lives.
List of Services/Programs
Lessons have been provided to DHH children at more than 20 schools in Southern California. We have directly reached over 2,000 DHH students since our inception in 2003.
In our DhhEAF classes, hearing aids and cochlear implants
are the norm rather than the uncomfortable exception. Tennis uniquely presents teaching &
learning opportunities. The students take note that everyone has similar
skill-set challenges in learning to play tennis. With guidance, good
effort, and practice, they realize the satisfaction of learning and gain
self-confidence with improvement. Years ahead of evidential results from recent Studies, we’ve promoted DhhEAF to our students, teachers, parents
& Administrators whereby our Program can create better students: Enhances concentration, necessitates critical
thinking & problem solving, and builds character.
Advanced players and quick learners with a comprehensive understanding are utilized as mentors for students where these skills are more difficult to master. As mentors, they interact with different sub-groups and gain their own level of self-confidence and gratification. The program is then customized so that each student progresses within his/her own level of success. Students understand they can play at a competitive level or just to have fun and socialize.
We can exact an immediate impact on their quality of
life. Short term, we impact mental,
emotional, and physical health by promoting thinking, learning and
activity. We also give them hope & a
personal belief foundation. We instill a
work-ethic that can give them inspiration & self-confidence when challenged
with reading or math studies. Long term
inclusion can bring about a brighter future as well. Because the rules of tennis are universal,
the game can foster friendship for our young charges anywhere they
live for the rest of their lives.
To that end, the benefits of life-long play (obesity, diabetes,
etc.), and a friendship network will take longer to evaluate.
We have enough positive experience to validate the expansion to reach additional DHH students. Our hope is that someday tennis will be available for every DHH student in the country.
Spearheading the DhhEAF Program are Roy Trafalski and Tom Baxted, positive role-models with a blend of elite-coaching and playing experience, business acumen, and professionalism. Their credentials both on, and off the court, are stellar. Roy approached Tom regarding the DhhEAF Program in 2002, and they quickly became friends because they spoke a common language……. tennis.
Neither hailed from privileged families who could afford lessons. But they learned invaluable life lessons along the way while honing their tennis skills. Thirty years ago Tom was the #1 Deaf tennis player in the U.S. and has professional tennis player on his resume. More impressively, he has attained hi MPA and has over 20 years of experience in the Finance Department of a Fortune 100 Company in Southern California. Roy is a former university coach/teaching pro, nationally ranked senior tournament player, and coached the 2005 USA Deaflympic Tennis Team where competition was held in Melbourne, Australia. There are few individuals who possess their unique tennis/communication skills to introduce and nurture the growth and advancement of this special needs population. Roy had volunteered as the Deaf specialist on the USTA's Adaptive Tennis Committee 2004-2012 and can confirm that we are the only program of its kind in the USA. He is certified with the USPTA and the only Pro dedicated to the hearing impaired population.
Tom grew up in a middle-class family in the South Bay area of Los Angeles. He was one of the best athletes on his Little League Baseball Team but mostly sat the bench because of communication difficulties. Then he found tennis and practiced incessantly to a point where he became skilled enough to compete with (and beat) many of the top SoCal junior players who were privileged with Country Club lessons. The experience gave Tom immeasurable self-confidence.
Roy was a high school football player in Buffalo, NY when a friend introduced him to tennis and he took a liking to the sport. His parents could not afford lessons; let alone, premium costs for indoor court time. However, he read books / magazines, observed skilled players, practiced hitting on the wall, and honed his game. In the process, he learned important lessons: The benefits of hard work, problem solving, and fair play.
Both Tom & Roy are confident that their enthusiasm for teaching, far reaching knowledge and passion for the game will translate into a myriad of success for the DHH community. They are committed to DhhEAF as a long-term project and believe it has the potential for national implementation.
Contact Us DhhEAF
The Deaf and hard of hearing Educational Athletic Foundation
1000 N. Alameda,
Los Angeles, CA 90012
DhhEAF is an approved project of Community Partners.