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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Deaf Athlete Receives Division I Football Scholarship

February 9, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

This fall, Ryan Bonheyo, a deaf high school football player, will join the ranks of a rare few deaf players to participate in college football.  

On February 4, Towson University in Maryland offered Bonheyo a full scholarship to play for the school's Division I football team. Towson was the only college to offer him a scholarship and will provide Bonheyo interpreters for class and for football practice.

While the Americans with Disabilities Act has expanded scholastic opportunities for the deaf, very few deaf athletes participate in athletics at the college level. According to the USA Deaf Sports Federation, there is on average one college scholarship per year offered to deaf athletes.

Bonheyo currently attends the Maryland School for the Deaf (MSD), one of nine high schools for the deaf in the country that has an 11-player football team. Bonheyo is the first student from MSD to receive an athletic scholarship.

"I'm just glad to have an opportunity to play at a college level. It's a lifelong dream – get that equal-rights thing going," said Bonheyo.

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