Sport12th February 2015

Barriers to Deaf Involvement in Sport - PhD Research

Studying for her PhD at Nottingham University, Sarah's research should aid understanding of the issues involved

by Sarah Somerset, PhD Student

My name is Sarah and I am a PhD student at the NIHR Nottingham Hearing Biomedical Research Unit. I am investigating what helps and stops deaf and hard of hearing children taking part in sport. Taking part in sport is important as it has been shown to have a positive effect on both mental and physical health. Those who are active from childhood are more likely to continue this activity as an adult. Sport participation provides the opportunity to learn new social and communication skills as well as team work.

There are 45,000 children in the UK with permanent hearing loss and many more who experience temporary loss. For these children taking part in sport can be a challenge. I have spoken to 41 children aged 10 to 15 years to find out what they do and don’t like about playing sport. This was compared to what hearing children say about taking part in sport. They are telling me things such as:

- They like playing sport with their friends

- They can find making friends difficult at new clubs

- Communicating with hearing people can be hard especially with their coaches

- They don’t always understand what is going on or what is expected of them

- They enjoy learning new skills when playing sport and being challenged

Children can struggle in the sports environment. For those using technology such as hearing aids and radio aids the wind can cause problems. Children may remove their hearing technology for some sports for example some children have discussed removal of cochlear implants (CI) for cricket. The helmet doesn’t fit comfortably with their CI so they choose to remove it. This then has a knock on effect on their hearing and communication. This isn’t always catered for in mixed clubs for hearing and deaf children.

I am currently interviewing parents, sports coaches and PE teachers of deaf and hard of hearing children by telephone and by email. If you are a PE teacher, sports coach or parent of a deaf or hard of hearing child I would be very interested to know about your experiences with deaf or hard of hearing children. Your experience can provide a valuable insight for this research. If we know what deaf and hard of hearing children do and don’t like about sport and what is good or bad for them we can help them to take part more easily. In addition hearing people often aren’t aware of the things that can be done to help communication with deaf and hard of hearing children. If we investigate this it can then be addressed in the future to help maintain sports participation.

Sarah Somerset -
0115 8232640

Article by Sarah Somerset, PhD Student

posted in Deaf Sport / Sport

12th February 2015