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Supporting clubs to be deaf friendly

There are almost 8.5 million people in England with some form of hearing loss (Sport England Mapping Disability; The Facts 2018). Deaf people, and those with hearing loss, face multiple barriers to taking part in athletics and running.

These barriers might include feeling excluded from conversations, not understanding instructions or information, anxiety of how others will react to their deafness or hearing loss, and how they might be treated.

By thinking ahead and making small changes a club can remove these barriers and support people who are deaf, or have hearing loss, to take part in athletics and running alongside.

Key Ideas

  • Don’t make assumptions about a deaf person’s communication method. Ensure that you ask the person (or parents) their preferred way of communicating. This might be through a BSL interpreter, lipreading or Sign Supported English for example.

  • Make sure the information you provide is accessible. For example, providing email contacts as well as phone numbers and including subtitles on videos and writing in Plain English. Provide written instructions as well as verbal ones- for example about the run route or about the next league meeting.

  • Find out if someone is deaf or has hearing loss before they attend so you can make any reasonable adjustments to include them

  • Provide safety information at start of a run (it’s difficult to sign or lipread on the way round!) Consider ways of adapting activities such as using flags to signal starts

  • Consider how you could engage with local community groups such as deaf clubs, sensory support services or hearing units at schools to attract more participants who are deaf or have hearing loss.

  • Most deaf people do not consider themselves to be disabled so specific deaf friendly activity is likely to be more successful than trying to attract deaf participants to disability events.

Questions

Yes No
Would you know if a deaf person or someone with hearing loss was going to attend your club?
Great! Working with the person directly will help identify any additional support needs and identify ways to include them effectively.
Asking about impairments or long-term health conditions in advance of someone attending can help you to make any necessary adaptions or to provide additional support to ensure they have a great experience.
Do you provide information in accessible formats?
Great! This will help support everyone, not just those who are deaf or have hearing loss.
Making sure everyone can access information equally can ensure a great club experience for all. Consider providing written information (in Plain English) where verbal information is normally shared. Encourage volunteers to learn basic BSL and add subtitles to video information. Any safety information should be a priority to ensure everyone can access the information and understands it.
Do you engage with deaf groups in the community?
Great! Those groups will be great at providing expert advice on how to create a welcoming and inclusive environment. They can advise you on how to adapt activity accordingly for people who are deaf or have hearing loss.
Engaging with local community groups such as deaf clubs or hearing support services can help to actively promote your club as deaf friendly. They may also be able to provide your club with expert advice on how best to support people who are deaf or have hearing loss.
Are your coaches and leaders confident and knowledgeable about supporting deaf participants or those with hearing loss?
Are your coaches and leaders confident and knowledgeable about supporting deaf participants or those with hearing loss?
All club coaches and volunteers should have some understanding of how to adapt activity and communication to make sure everyone can take part and feel welcomed. Training can improve knowledge, confidence and volunteers’ ability to support people who are deaf or have hearing loss. This will create a more positive experience for everyone.
Do you know how to communicate with a deaf person or someone with hearing loss?
Great! Sharing tips and ideas with other group members is important so they can include and communicate with any members who are deaf or have hearing loss.
The individual will be best placed to tell you how they prefer to communicate and how you can support them. Always speak to the individual directly, even if they have an interpreter with them. Having a pen and paper to hand is useful too.

Bitesize Videos

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British Sign Language for Athletics

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British Sign Language for Cross Country

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British Sign Language for Road Running

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Related Resource

Type Resource Last Updated
Club Guide - Supporting deaf club members
Club Factsheet - How to include everyone in your club

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