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Deaf Awareness Week: Connect and communicate in sport and physical activity

Deaf Awareness Week runs from 4-10 May 2015 and the theme this year is Connect and Communicate.

Action on Hearing Loss says that hearing loss is a major public health issue affecting 10 million people, one in six of the UK population. That number is expected to grow to 14.5 million by 2031.

People confronting deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss face challenges every day that impact their quality of life.

The English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) recognises the importance that inclusive communications play in participation to increase deaf people's participation in sport and physical activity.

Encouraging participation

UK Deaf Sport is the National Disability Sports Organisation for deaf sport across the UK and work to encourage more deaf people to participate, enjoy and excel at sport. In Sport England's latest Active People Survey, the least active participation group is deaf and hard of hearing people but research shows that latent demand is high.

EFDS works in partnership with UK Deaf Sport to encourage deaf people to participate, enjoy and excel at sport.

UK Deaf Sport believes that deaf and hard of hearing people should have the chance to enjoy a life in sport. Sport and physical activity can have a profound effect on the lives of deaf people, improving a person’s health, confidence and increasing their social interaction.

A few months ago UK Deaf Sport announced the first UK Deaf Sport national conference. ReDEAFining Deaf Sport will be held on Friday 15 May 2015 in London.

ReDEAFining Deaf Sport is being held at The Wesley hotel, near Euston station in London. Aimed at sport development professionals the conference will look to address the following key topics: 

  • The importance of becoming DEAFinitely Inclusive
  • How to be innovative and adapt delivery planning, marketing and communication to include deaf people
  • Knowing your audience. Understanding research and insight about your audience to ensure the right provision is available.

DEAFinitely Inclusive is UK Deaf Sport’s community programme which creates opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing people of all ages to play, coach and volunteer in sport at a local level. There are currently four DEAFinitely Inclusive networks across the country that bring together over 200 local, regional and national organisations from sport and disability sector.

UK Deaf Sport video

Each network aims to improves the provision and access to sport and physical activity for deaf and hard of hearing people, enabling them to reach their full potential in sport.

EFDS research reveals that people with hearing impairments stated issues with communication as a major barrier in being active. This Deaf Awareness Week, sports providers are encouraged to think about the ways in which they can ensure everyone, especially deaf people or those with hearing impairments, can access all aspects of activity.

Active lifestyles

Earlier this year, EFDS spoke to Olive Lycett, a woman who has always been very active but recently joined, and now helps to run, Dangerous Hands, a deaf netball team in London.

She told us all about the importance of exercise and how she is able to combine sport and her deafness:

“There’s a euphoria involved in exercise. Deaf people have lots of barriers in everyday life, so it’s nice to go for a run and let it all go, let off steam. It feels good afterwards. That’s why I’ve always done it.

“I do think women need that extra push to get active, because it can be a male world. If you go to the gym there can be a lot of men with weights and as a girl, if you’re a newcomer, you’re not really sure what to do. And if you’re disabled that’s an extra barrier, because you have to ask for help and you feel even more of a fool in front of all these rippling muscles.”

UK Deaf Sport has partnered with sportscoach UK and the National Deaf Children's Society (NDCS) to develop interactive workshop for those coaching deaf people in sport.

By taking part in the Effective Communications workshop you will:

  • Be aware of deafness and understand the barriers facing deaf people in sport
  • Develop your own communication skills and be able to use them effectively in any coaching session
  • Be aware of and understand the pathways for deaf sport to encourage deaf participants to aim high
  • Be able to develop an action plan to include deaf people in your coaching sessions

Through the NDCS deaf-friendly football project between 2007 and 2012, the organisation worked with the Football Association and football clubs all across the UK, with both deaf and hearing, to encourage football clubs to provide facilities for young deaf football players, coaches, officials and fans.

They are now building on this success to make all youth activities deaf friendly.

NDCS is calling on youth organisations, groups and clubs to take small and simple steps that would turn them into genuinely inclusive organisations for deaf children and young people. They want all deaf young people to be able to stand up and say: “Me too!”

Visit their Me2 resources here.

Addressing communication barriers

In April 2014, EFDS produced a guide to inclusive communications. Written in partnership with Big Voice Communications, it supports providers to reach a wider audience, including more disabled people.

It aims to address the main communication barriers that many people experience in sport and physical activity, which also stop disabled people from accessing some opportunities.

As well as providing essential better practice guidance on planning, terminology and language, it explains the purpose of accessible formats and shows how providers can get the best from their communications.

Download the Inclusive Communications guide here. You can contact EFDS, using our contact us page. For more information about getting involved with DEAfinitely Inclusive networks please visit the UK Deaf Sport website or contact National Participation Officer, Clive Breedon, email