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Anthony leans against the dasher boards of the hockey rink, his eyes following the action of the game unfolding in front of him.

Players chase down the puck, slap it across the ice, and then sign to one another, communicating complex plays with a few hand motions and their body language. This is Ontario’s Deaf Hockey Association, and Anthony is its founder.

Last season, the Ontario Deaf Hockey Association had the highest number of registered players in its seven-year history. Anthony believes that the more players who compete, the more likely one will be noticed by a professional scout, and go on to play in the NHL. (There’s only been one deaf player in the history of the league, and he played way back in the early ’80s). This is Anthony’s ultimate goal.

But more immediately, Anthony’s is preparing his teammates for the Canada Deaf games, where scouts will be recruiting for the Canadian Deaf Hockey Team for the Deaflympics. As always, Anthony will be pushing to ensure Deaf athletes are getting their share of the limelight.

Anthony was born with 90% hearing loss, and while today he is entrenched in the world of deaf sports, for most of his life he had no idea they existed. As a child growing up in Ontario, he was placed in traditional, hearing hockey leagues, where communication with teammates and coaches often left Anthony feeling like an outsider. It was only in Anthony’s first year of college, in Montreal, that he learned about a local deaf hockey league and decided to check it out. “I remember just feeling this sense of social acceptance,” Anthony says. His teammates quickly taught him the rules of deaf hockey: no hearing aids allowed on the ice, flashing lights indicate a whistle going off, and a white board on the sidelines is used for players to communicate with each other and the ref.

Over the following months, Anthony formed close friendships with the other players, and in 2012, Anthony’s team won the Canadian Deaf Hockey Championships. “It was a huge deal for all of us,” Anthony says. “The feeling of having a gold medal around your neck, and standing next to teammates who have so much in common with you is just indescribable”

Inspired by his experience in Montreal, in 2013, Anthony set out to create the Ontario Deaf Hockey Association to bring together Deaf and hard of hearing hockey players in his home province. It was the first league of its kind in Ontario and it is now part of the Ontario Deaf Sports Association which is run through Canadian Deaf Sports Association.

“Meetings with multiple people, phone calls, and video calls were really challenging for me. It’s hard to lip read in those situations, and so it was difficult for me to follow the conversation and make a case for the funding we needed.”

Similar to other sports leagues, the Ontario Deaf Hockey Association counts on sponsors to help fund things like jerseys and travel to games and tournaments. In the league’s early days Anthony traveled throughout Canada to secure sponsorships from the likes of Meridian Bank, Canlan Ice Sports, and The Toronto Marlies. But Anthony found that his lip-reading skills, while impressive (his Twitter bio boasts he’s a “lipreader extraordinaire”), would only get him so far. “Meetings with multiple people, phone calls, and video calls were really challenging for me,” Anthony says. “It’s hard to lip read in those situations, and so it was difficult for me to follow the conversation and make a case for the funding we needed.”

In 2019, Anthony learned about Live Transcribe, which provides free, real-time, speech-to-text captions on Android devices. “I remember just exploding with excitement when I started using the application,” Anthony says. “At tournaments, in between games, I started holding out my phone during conversations with players, but also with potential sponsors, media members, and other league organizers. Live Transcribe caught every word. ”

“Being able to read everything that was being said gave me confidence that I was answering questions correctly and pitching my organization and my players in the strongest way possible.”

Anthony began bringing his phone to meetings with multiple people, putting his phone down on the table so it could pick up the conversation. “If I missed what someone said, I could look at my phone screen and get up to speed,” he says. Live Transcribe has also proven helpful during phone calls with coaches and team managers, where players’ recruiting prospects are discussed. Anthony will set his phone with Live Transcribe open next to his landline phone and put the audio on speaker so he can read along with the conversation. ”Before Live Transcribe, I’d understand what’s being said over the phone 50 percent of the time,” Anthony says. “But with Live Transcribe, I understand 85-90 percent.”

Today, Anthony is continuing to bring awareness to Ontario’s Deaf Hockey Association, and to create opportunities for its players. “We have so many talented athletes in the deaf community,” Anthony says. “They belong in the major leagues, and so I will keep fighting to ensure they are recognized and have a place on the ice.”

How Anthony does it.

Live Transcribe.

Anthony uses Live Transcribe to fundraise for Ontario’s Deaf Hockey Association. When he meets with potential sponsors, Anthony holds out his phone with Live Transcribe open, so that he can read along with the conversation, answer questions, and make a case for sponsors to support his organization.

Anthony uses Live Transcribe to promote fellow deaf players. When Anthony speaks with members of the media or hockey scouts over the phone or via video chat, he puts his phone with Live Transcribe open next to his landline or computer screen, so that he can follow the discussion and be a powerful advocate for rising deaf hockey stars.

Every time someone asks him about the application he’s using, Anthony thinks back to his childhood: “Kids would come up to me and say, ‘What’s that thing in your ear?’ Well now, people come up to me on the side of the rink and say, “What’s that thing in your hand? What are you looking at?’ And I tell them it’s called Live Transcribe. I want people to know about it, because it’s had such a great impact on my life.”

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