Fair Play for Deaf Athletes

A new campaign to end the exclusion of Deaf athletes has recently been launched by UK Deaf Sport. The campaign, ‘Fair Play’, hopes to raise the status of Deaf athletes through funding from the Government- something that is currently not in place. The campaign hopes that the Government will begin to fund deaf athletes and is simply asking the Government to pledge £3m to UK DeafSport over the next four years.

The new campaign calls for the government to end discrimination through the funding of deaf sport. Unfortunately, in the current climate, deaf athletes can only compete in the Paralympics and be funded if they have another eligible Paralympic disability. Without this, deaf athletes can only compete in the Deaflympics, where they will not receive any form of funding. In comparison to the non-funded Deaflympics, the Olympics and Paralympics currently receive £612 million over four years through UK Sport. Indeed, this is a huge disadvantage for those athletes who are deaf. UK Deaf Sport is simply calling on the government to fund deaf athletes and the Deaflympics Team ahead of Tokyo 2025.

UK Deaf Sport, the charity that is co-ordinating the campaign argues that the government funding for elite deaf sport will also help to encourage more deaf people to participate in sport at all levels by improving the pathways and providing inspiring role models. Alongside this, recent research found that the deaf community are one of the most inactive groups with 53% of deaf adults being inactive. Indeed, if more deaf athletes are to be funded, the more coverage they will receive. In turn, we hope that this will encourage more people to get out there and play sport as they come to realise that being deaf should not be a barrier to reaching their potential in sport.

Here is what those who were part of the campaign had to say:

Piers Martin, Chair of UK Deaf Sport said: “It is not well-known that the Deaflympics is a separate event to the Paralympics, but that is simply not a valid excuse for the Government to continue to exclude elite deaf athletes, and modern society no longer accepts discrimination at this level. Without equitable support for elite deaf athletes, in the same way as their Paralympic peers, there can be no role models for young deaf people to aspire to, no supported pathway to develop, and they are turned away from clubs. It is no surprise that activity levels amongst the 12 million strong deaf community are some of the worst across our society. Join us to challenge this Government to make such a simple, but fair, change that will make such a significant impact across the whole deaf community, and society at large.

Joanne Cholerton, Chief Executive of UK Deaf Sport said: ‘Deafness is the only disability the Government do not support at the elite sport level. Being deaf should not be a barrier to reaching your potential in sport and we think this is profoundly unfair. That’s why we’re calling on the Government to readdress this funding anomaly and discrimination so that we are able to create successful deaf athlete pathways that mirror their Olympic and Paralympic peers and send a strong, competitive GB Team to the next Deaflympics in Tokyo in 2025.

Overall, Deaf Sport should be more widely recognised by the Government. The Deaflympics, which precedes the Paralympics, is almost at its 100th anniversary. The Government currently fails to recognise the importance of funding, and this is why the campaign to end discrimination is so important to those in the deaf community.

Here at Signature, we wish UK Deaf Sport the best of luck in their campaign. We hope that their commitment to Deaf Sport and the deaf community is recognised by the UK Government. There is no excuse for no funding in such a competitive sporting field. Let’s aim for Fair Play!

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