Anne Zander is deaf and likes to roller skate in parks. Originally from Berlin she discovered roller skating through roller derby in 2012. For the past years she’s been living in Hamburg, skating parks with CIB Hamburg. As a deaf skater, she has to master more than just the challenges we all face, when skating.
What is the first thing you do when you arrive at a (new) skate park?
First, I check the location. For example, I do not like it when there are too many people with different things like BMX and scooters or if it is too crowded. That stresses me out.
How do you deal with being in skateparks when lots of people skate? You do not hear skaters coming from the side or from behind? I imagine that to be difficult.
That’s why I prefer an empty skatepark. Many will yell but I would not notice them and that’s where accidents can happen. Anyway, everyone should enter the skatepark with respect and vigilance. I really enjoy the girl’s night at the I-Punkt-Halle in Hamburg. Unfortunately, it’s only once a month. It has been a pleasant experience so far. Everyone treats each other with respect and people are attentive for other riders, so you get your turn.
But what kind of behavior would you expect from other skaters in general as no one can see that you cannot hear?
Well, that’s difficult to answer. Just keep eye contact and have fun.
What is important in terms of communication? Can you always lipread?
Not always. It works best if I know someone very well. With strangers it’s difficult. Facial expressions, body language and pointing go a long way.
How do you learn tricks?
If I want to progress, I also have to watch video tutorials. That’s where it gets difficult as there are not always subtitles. So I basically have to watch others’ skating. I try to implement what I see or I ask how they do it or what to look for. Then I practice. It takes a little longer for me although I would like to understand the techniques right away. The great thing about videos is that the tricks are shown. I also follow the “International Game of Rollerskate” as there is a lot of written text. This helps me with trick names. That’s why subtitles in tutorials would be great. Overall, I am rather impatient and I would like to be able to do everything immediately. So it is always a challenge to do one step after the other.
What’s your advice for other deaf people who would like to start skating but do not dare to?
Just join in, look out for other deaf skaters and help and support each other. Just get started, try and have fun. I would be very happy if there were more people interested.
Interview by Marta Popowska
Photos by Rosi Schönthaler
This interview originally appeared in DogDays Magazine issue #3