Deaf and hard of hearing people call for more accessible activities

Deaf and hard of hearing people call for more accessible activities in new research

New research released today (Monday 6 July 2015) shows a latent demand for more sporting opportunities, which are accessible to deaf and hard of hearing people. The findings in UK Deaf Sport’s survey will support providers to plan and deliver their activities better so they meet the needs of a large proportion of our population.

UK Deaf Sport, the recognised strategic lead for deaf sport across the UK, has undertaken the first national survey into deaf and hard of hearing people’s participation in sport and physical activity. The research highlights some key findings about deaf people’s current participation levels in sport and physical activity. They include:

  • More than eight in ten (83 per cent) people surveyed report that they are physically active at least once a week. However, less than half (46 per cent) of those surveyed currently play sport.
  • In addition to those currently playing sport, a further one in three people surveyed (32 per cent) expressed an interest in playing sport in the future. Highlighting a clear further demand for sport among the deaf and hard of hearing population.
  • Eight in ten (81 per cent) would prefer to take part in sport in a mixed environment, with both deaf and hearing people.

Lee Dolby, Director of Development at UK Deaf Sport said about the survey:

“UK Deaf Sport believes that deaf people should have the chance to enjoy a life in sport. Sport and physical activity can have a profound effect of the lives of deaf people, improving a person’s health, confidence and social interaction. These results are a starting block for many to change the way they deliver activities for deaf and hard of hearing people.”

As well as mapping current participation levels, the research also highlights some valuable findings for sport providers such as National Governing Bodies of sport and County Sport Partnerships. The results can help inform how they look to improve their sporting offers for deaf and hard of hearing people:

  • Two thirds of survey respondents (66 per cent) travel 30 minutes or less to participate in sport, confirming the importance of providing local opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing people to take part in.
  • The top three reasons people surveyed gave for taking part in sport are for ‘enjoyment’, ‘keeping fit and healthy’ and to ‘socialise’.
  • Sports such as running, swimming and football are most popular amongst those surveyed, while physical activities like walking and gardening featured high in the results.
  • The research revealed a high level of latent demand from deaf and hard of hearing people for other sports including badminton, bowls and shooting.
  • Communication was identified as the top barrier that prevents deaf and hard of hearing people from taking part in sport.
  • Three quarters (75 per cent) of those surveyed identified Spoken English (including lip reading or hearing assisted technology) as one of their preferred forms of communication, while around one third (31 per cent) of respondents identified British Sign Language.
  • Respondents identified digital communication channels such as social media, internet search and email as the most popular ways in which they would like to find out about opportunities to take part in sport.

Lee Dolby continued:

“We are keen to use these research findings and work with sports providers at a local, regional and national level. With our support, providers can develop more accessible opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing people to take part in sport and physical activity.”

Participation profiles of this new research are available to providers on consultation with UK Deaf Sport. Profiles can be segmented by sport, age, gender and location.

All enquiries for specific participation profiles should be directed to Clive Breedon, UK Deaf Sport National Participation Officer by email: or by mobile: 07944 467980.

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