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World Deaf Awareness Week

This week, from 6th to 12th May, is Deaf Awareness Week. Many different organisations are working together in a joint campaign to promote their work within the broad spectrum of deafness.

According to the UK Council on Deafness there are 11 million people with hearing loss across the UK, which equates to roughly one-in-six of us. Deaf Awareness Week aims to raise awareness and challenge perceptions of hearing loss and deafness across the UK.

Research has shown that Hearing loss can lead to withdrawal from social situations, emotional distress, and depression. It increases the risk of loneliness, but only for those who don’t wear hearing aids.

The following statistics from the charity ‘Action on Hearing Loss’ highlight the prevalence of hearing loss:

·         By 2035, we estimate there’ll be around 15.6 million people with hearing loss across the UK – that’s one in five.
·         There are 50,000 children with hearing loss in the UK. Around half are born with hearing loss while the other half lose their hearing during childhood.
·         An estimated 900,000 people in the UK have severe or profound hearing loss.
·         We estimate that there are at least 24,000 people across the UK who use British Sign Language (BSL) as their main language (although there are likely to be more that we don’t know about).
·         More than 40% of people over 50 years old have hearing loss, rising to 71% of people over the age of 70.
·         Around one in 10 UK adults has tinnitus.

In 2018, over a thousand people responded to an online poll by the charity Action on Hearing Loss. They said the majority highlighted how deafness and hearing loss was still something many felt was appropriate to make fun of, and that people still feel the need to hide their hearing aids. 89% of respondents felt that they were being stigmatised and discriminated against.

Deaf Awareness Week seeks to confront and eliminate such discrimination by raising awareness about hearing loss. The theme for the week is ‘Celebrating Role Models’ and it comes with a hashtag so that you can get involved in the conversation: #DAWrolemodels2019. The week includes a theme for each day, so that role models from different areas of life can be highlighted and celebrated. The theme for Wednesday was ‘Sportspeople’.

At Level Playing Field we believe that sport should be available to all, both participating and spectating. We are working with clubs throughout the country to remove the barriers faced by disabled supporters, including those who are hard of hearing. We have witnessed and shared several great initiatives over recent years as more clubs recognise the difference that a few small changes can make to improving the match day experience for deaf spectators and making their club more inclusive. These changes include hearing loops, suitable surfaces to avoid additional background noise, no glazing for people lip-reading and also training with stewards and other club staff so that they’re able to better understand the challenges and needs of supporters who are hard of hearing.

Ruth Hopkins, LPF General Manager said, “Level Playing Field is pleased to support the Deaf Awareness Week 2019 campaign as it looks to raise awareness and challenges of deafness and hearing loss faced by 1 in 6 people in the UK.”

“We know that deafness and hearing loss can cause social isolation and we therefore encourage all sports clubs to give consideration to their deaf and hard of hearing supporters. A few low cost and no cost adjustments can make a huge difference to their match day experience. These might include having hearing induction loops available at customer facing locations (ticket office, reception desks and function rooms), having staff trained in BSL and disability awareness, making sure audio announcements are also shown on screens, ensuring emergency alarms have flashing lights and providing a welcoming environment for assistance (hearing) dogs.”

The UK Council on Deafness have produced a ‘top tips’ page for interacting with people who are deaf or hard of hearing, which you can read here: Deaf Awareness Week top tips

If you are deaf or hard of hearing and looking to find out how you can participate more fully in sport then you can find out more information at UK Deaf Sport

For more details on hearing loss generally, or the Awareness Week, visit:

Action on hearing loss

UK Council on Deafness

Deaf Awareness Week