University of Northern Colorado Assistant Professor Byron Bridges, who coordinates UNC’s Teaching American Sign Language program, will compete as a
member of the U.S. chess team during this year’s Deaflympics.
From December 12-21, the 19th Winter Deaflympics will take place in Italy. It’s the first year that chess will be part of the games.
“It brings together athletes from all over the world,” signed Bridges, who communicated
in American Sign Language through an interpreter and also has played chess for over
40 years. “They decided to ask me to join the chess team, so of course, I was interested
in being part of the games and decided I would go.”
Bridges was asked to join by the U.S.A. Deaf Chess Coach because of a team member
who knew about Bridges’ skill in chess.
The chess games are held in individual and team categories. The individual category
allows three men and three women maximum to participate per country. The team competitions
consist of six players (four players and two reserves) who participate on one team
per country. Dr. Bridges will be participating in the team competitions.
Bridges, who practices chess daily, responded that he is trying to train as hard as
he can leading up to the games.
“In my life, I like to troubleshoot and apply what I know to situations, and this
includes chess,” Bridges signed. “I like to strategize, problem solve. So, I’ll use
those strategies as I play as well as in various aspects of my life.”
The International Committee of Sports for the Deaf (ICCD) is the main governing body
that organizes the Deaflympics. The chess game categories were discussed by Ivan Kulakov, the secretary general
of ICCD, in a video recorded in sign language.
Bridges also participates in:
Development of the Sign Language 101 Website
Bridges is part of a team that’s producing free access to ASL lessons titled Sign Language 101. He is producing videos for the site to help people advance through different levels
of learning ASL.
Deaf Bikers of America Events
In August, Bridges is planning to attend the largest gathering of motorcycle riders
who are deaf as part of the Deaf Bikers of America organization. Bridges rides a Harley-Davidson and has been riding motorcycles since
he was 12 years old.
--Written by Mackenzie Eldred