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Namiko Yanagawa, who lost her hearing at age 1, led the women’s national volleyball team for the deaf and hard-of-hearing until last year, and is well-versed in the challenges the sport poses to those with hearing difficulties.

“Since players are not capable of talking to each other during a match, they communicate with sign language during a timeout,” Yanagawa, 28, said via written messages. “But they won’t be able to play well if they fail to discuss enough until each of them is fully satisfied.”

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