Swim England and UK Deaf Sport begin to make swimming more accessible

Swim England and UK Deaf Sport have teamed up to make swimming more accessible for deaf participants.

The start of a swimming race can be challenging for deaf athletes: particularly those who are unable to wear hearing aids or cochlear implants in the water.

As part of the ongoing project between Swim England and UK Deaf Sport, more facilities in England which host Levels 1 and 2 races are now equipped with strobe lighting to ensure deaf swimmers have equal starts to hearing competitors.

Out of the 69 facilities which held these events in the 2018-2019 season, 33 are now required to purchase an additional strobe, and more than half of those have already done so.

Swim England and UK Deaf Sport will continue to work with their regional partners to ensure the remaining facilities will have access to a secondary strobe as soon as possible. The facilities will still be able to host Level 1 and 2 meets during the 2019-2020 season, as they have already put plans in place to provide strobes in the near future.

“I’m really pleased with the developments that have happened around this and that we now have a clear plan for when these secondary strobes and training/guidance will be in place.

“This is a great step forward for deaf swimmers who wish to participate in their local, regional and national competitions but are not given the same opportunities as all participants to start the race on an equal footing.

“There are exciting times ahead for swimming and the deaf community and we would like to thank Swim England for their continued support of UK Deaf Sport’s work around the disability agenda in sport and physical activity across England.” – Valerie Copenhagen, UK Deaf Sport Head of Participation

As part of the partnership, UK Deaf Sport are offering to train volunteers to help them understand the support needs of deaf athletes. Swim England and UK Deaf Sport will both seek to identity opportunities to support coaches, referees and officials through deaf awareness training and support.