The purpose of this Task Force (TF) was to determine and assess the needs of deaf and hard of hearing girls and women in sport and advocate on their behalf. Following WomenSport International’s mission, we seek “to encourage increased opportunities and positive changes” for deaf and hard of hearing females at all involvement of sport.
WSI Deaf and Hard of Hearing Girls and Women In Sport
Task Force Final Report
In January 2013, WomenSport International (WSI) officially created a new task force to focus on Deaf/Hard of Hearing Girls and Women in Sport. Furthermore the Task Force is pleased to receive endorsement from the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf (ICSD).
The current members of the Task Force were:
Donalda K. Ammons, Ed.D. – USA (Co-Chair)
Becky Clark, Ph.D., LCSW-R, CC-AASP – USA (Co-Chair)
Dawn Jani Birley, B.A. – Canada/Finland
Anne Bremner, M.A. – Australia
Petra Kurkova, Ph.D. – Czech Republic
Johanna Mesch, Ph.D. – Sweden
Mimi Ho, MSc. – United Kingdom/Hong Kong
The purpose of this Task Force was to determine and assess the needs of deaf and hard of hearing girls and women in sport and advocate on their behalf. Following WSI’s mission, we sought “to encourage increased opportunities and positive changes” for deaf and hard of hearing girls and women at all levels of sport involvement. One of the major goals for the 2014 year was to conduct a survey and gather data in the context of our mission. This was accomplished in June 2014.
The Task Force produced a first written preliminary report detailing results of initial findings from the survey and made recommendations at the 6th International Working Group (IWG) World Conference on Women and Sport in Helsinki, Finland 12−15th June 2014.
In order to fulfill our mission, we invited a total of 104 national deaf sports federations as members of the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf (ICSD) to take part in the survey. The survey asked about sport participation among the deaf/hard of hearing girls and women in their Deaf Sports Federation. The survey was made available in both written English via email, online survey through Survey Monkey and in International Sign (IS).Participation in this study was entirely optional. Participants in the survey were assured that the Task Force members working on the project were the only individuals having access to the data results and data would be kept strictly confidential. At the end of the survey period, a total of 28 responses were received (27% response rate).
One of the questions asked was related to the possible reasons for no deaf/hard of hearing females in the national deaf sports federation.
The responses are daunting:
- Negative stigma towards Deafness or Hearing loss by the community is indescribable
- Lack of financial support from local, regional and national governments for assistance in arranging training and workshops
- Lack of documented facts on the target group’s real situation
- Lack of national policy and legislations in sport by organizers and decision makers at all levels for athletes with hearing loss
Conclusions and Recommendations
As we know, research shows there are slightly more men than women by 1 percent in the world’s total population.
From the survey, we gather some very interesting data:
- There are about 30% Deaf and Hard of Hearing girls and women participate in either recreational or competitive sports.
- Nearly 55% of the respondents indicate the level of funding for to be between 0-20%, followed with 20% at 21-40%. 2 out of 4 regions per ICSD’s membership structure (Africa and America) report 100% in the 0-20% category, whereas Asia/Pacific registered at 63% in the 0-20%. European respondents spread evenly among 3 categories- 0-20%, 21-40% and 41-60%
- What’s distressing is that the national deaf sports federations under the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf reported 0% for the 15-20 age range for their female participants. It means young Deaf and Hard of Hearing girls are not served at all!
- The percentage of annual financial support given to female athletes is at 54.2% in the 0-20%
Because of the WSI’s initiative with the Task Force, ICSD as the supreme body of deaf sports has become more cognizant of the greater needs of Deaf and Hard of Hearing girls and women in the sports world.
As a result, ICSD:
- Partner of the 6th IWG World Conference on Women in Sport
- Sent 3 Deaf and Hard of Hearing Female representatives to the 6th IWG World Conference on Women in Sport in Helsinki, Finland
- Endorsed the Brighton Declaration on Women and Sport
- Established Women in Sport Commission to gauge the needs and services of deaf girls/women in a more efficient manner.
- ICSD Women in Sport Commission should develop goals and guidelines to increase women’s representation in leadership and participation.
- ICSD should increase representation of women in leadership positions to 20% .
- ICSD should increase women representation in each of its four global regions.
- National Deaf Sports organizations should appoint woman representatives.
- IWG and WSI should adopt a budget (and policy/procedures) for reasonable accommodations/accessibility for members (and participants) who are deaf or hard
of hearing at board meetings and future conferences.
Read the full June 2015 report and the survey (.pdf, 21 pages)