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UK Coaching and UK Deaf Sport
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Coaching People with Hearing Impairments

Top tips for including people with hearing impairments in your coaching sessions, in association with UK Deaf Sport

  1. Suggest the individual be at the front of the group when discussing plans or instructions, or, as the coach in the activity, move to a position where the participant is in front of you. 
  2. Convey this message at the beginning of the session rather than bringing the participant to the front at the beginning of each demonstration. 
  3. Try to reduce the noise level. Hearing aids are not selective in the sounds they amplify and, therefore, any background noises will be amplified as much as your voice. 
  4. Speak clearly and don’t exaggerate lip movements. If you are a fast speaker, you might find that slowing down your rate of speech a little could help. 
  5. Avoid standing in front of a window or with the sun at your back as other light sources make lip-reading difficult.

It will be useful to discuss the guidance described here with squad members, parents/carers and/or assistants prior to, or shortly after, the deaf participant joining the team. The coach can also educate them regarding how to assist the participant. For example, combine clapping with a double-handed wave to congratulate or praise. When we see something good, the natural reaction is to clap. The deaf community will use a raised double-handed wave to show the same appreciation, so use both methods for a mixed group.

  1. Try to face the participant when speaking and do not cover your mouth with your hand, paper or a pen; do not chew gum or eat. Be aware that a beard or moustache may make lip-reading difficult. 
  2. Ensure the participant is paying attention before you begin to deliver instructions or coaching points. Attract the deaf participant’s attention before speaking to them or else they may not realise you are talking to them. A tap on the shoulder or a wave is acceptable. 
  3. Present one format of visual information at a time. The participant cannot ‘read’ two things at the same time; for example, the board and your lips. Therefore, try to avoid talking while writing on the board or demonstrating. 
  4. Write down keywords and new vocabulary if needed. This helps because new words are almost impossible to lip-read. 
  5. Where possible, demonstrate techniques or corrections rather than rely on verbal explanations. 
     
  1. Inform the participant of any changes in daily routine. They may be the only one in the session unprepared for such things as room changes, finishing times or changes in activity. 
  2. Repeat other people’s contributions to the session.
  3. Ask the participant to teach you sport-specific signs; there is a number of these that a deaf participant can teach members of your sporting club to assist with communication during matches and training. 
  4. Make sure the deaf participant can identify essential signals in your sport (eg visual equivalents to whistles or a starting pistol). A simple example could include a referee/starter putting an arm up, then down at the same time as the whistle/starting pistol. 
  5. If a deaf participant does not reply or seems to have difficulty understanding, rephrase what you just said/demonstrated before moving on. A deaf participant will usually confirm they understand by a nod of the head and you should do the same.

The following information has been written by those with a great deal of experience in this area. The information is provided as guidance only, allowing you to be more informed in your approach to being a more inclusive coach. No two people are the same; as such, please ensure your first step is always to speak to the person – understand their abilities and goals, and never assume.

Related Learning

  • Effective Communication: Coaching Deaf People In Sport

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  • Renewal: Safeguarding and Protecting Children

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  • Inclusive Coaching: Disability

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UK Coaching and UK Deaf Sport