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February 14, 2013 | North America: Virginia

Conquering Communication Challenges

By Special Olympics Team USA

One of the most amazing things about World Games is to watch athletes from countries all around the world overcome language barriers. Speed skating athlete Jannai Kennedy from Virginia understood communication challenges long before she came to the Republic of Korea. Jannai was born deaf. Her interaction with athletes from other countries parallels the interaction athletes back home have with her. “They don’t talk the same language, I don’t understand their language”, Jannai said. Jannai traveled with her sign language interpreter Maggie Drilling. “It is probably the first time that anyone has understood what her life is like, to have someone talk to you and not know what they are saying." Maggie said Jannai and her competitors find a common connection in a universal language. “They touch a lot, and use hand gestures, high fives, smiles and bow. That has been great for her because she has been on an even level. That is what she always does, figures out a way to connect."

About Special Olympics Team USA: Member, SO Team USA Communications Team

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