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Deaf Curler Rising To The Top

Updated: Dec 29, 2020

Deaf curler Emma Logan throws a curling rock
Emma Logan, who lost her hearing at age 1, delivers a curling rock (Andrew Klaver)

By Ted Wyman

Originally Appearing in the London Free Press

MOOSE JAW, Sask. — To get a sense of Emma Logan’s attitude toward a disability she has lived with since she was 13 months old, consider that she often speaks about “deaf perks.”

For instance, if she has to sleep in a room with a curling teammate who snores.Deaf perks.Or if she’s trying do get some peace and quiet on a plane and doesn’t want to hear any conversation.

She can just “Turn her ears off.”Deaf perks.“Deaf perks,” says her aunt, Mary-Anne Arsenault. “What kid comes up with that? It’s her attitude that gets her ahead. It’s hard to think that a 22-year-old can be your inspiration but she really is inspiring, in all aspects of life.”

Emma's Journey

That Logan is playing in the Scotties Tournament of Hearts this year as the lead on Arsenault’s Nova Scotia team, should be inspiring to many people.She was just a year old when she contracted meningitis and lost her hearing.

Since then, with the help of cochlear implants, she has fought through many barriers to become a top student, a humanitarian who helps others with hearing impairments and, this year, a high-level curler.The last achievement hasn’t been easy.She discovered quickly that you really need to be able hear what’s going on when you are a front-end player in a sport that requires loads of communication.

“It was a great challenge at the start of the season for sure,” Logan said Friday after practice at Mosaic Place.“We realized that a lot of communication was being missed on my end. I wouldn’t hear a line call or the communication with the other sweepers. There seemed to be a gap in the full-team communication.“There were definitely times in the season where I felt quite low and questioned whether I would be able to make it to this stage in times where we were struggling. But then we kept pushing, we kept persevering and we found a way to make it work at the right time.”

A Game-changing Discovery

The first solution was low-tech. Arsenault stuck a strip of green duct tape on the back of her right curling glove, a strip of red tape on her left. When she wanted Logan to sweep hard she showed her the green glove, and when she wanted her off the rock she showed the red.

After a short time, the team discovered a Bluetooth system that would allow another player to wear a microphone that fed directly into Logan’s implant. Arsenault wore it at first, but after a month they put it on second Jennifer Baxter and found it improved things considerably.“Once we tested it out by putting the mic on Jen, it was like ‘Oh my gosh,’ Logan said. “It just opened my eyes to the fact that I was just missing everything that the other sweepers were saying. To have the mic on the sweepers and be able to rely on more visual cues for the line call, together, we finally found a way to make that work.”

The improved communication led to a Nova Scotia provincial championship, Arsenault’s 14th appearance in the Scotties and Logan’s first.She’s the talk of the Scotties and her beaming smile gives away both her joy at being in this spot and her ability to push aside obstacles.“By focusing on team communication all season, not just relating to my hearing loss but beyond that, it has bonded our team together,” Logan said. “We have a great team dynamic and it has really worked for us.”


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