Girl ice skating

Deaf teenage girls feel sidelined in sport: UK Deaf Sport and Women in Sport


Deaf teenage girls are at increased risk of dropping out of sport and face additional barriers to participation than hearing girls.

Our report in partnership with UK Deaf Sport, looks at the difficulties that some teenage girls face to taking part in sport.

It discovered that while some girls were able to overcome obstacles others felt forced to quit, putting them at risk of long-term disengagement with sport.

Exercise can help to prevent numerous issues that affect the lives of girls and women, from anxiety and self-harm during the teenage years to osteoporosis that can plague women in later life.

I’m the only girl in my boxing club. The boys wind me up for being a girl and for my deafness.”

Barriers to sport for deaf teenagers

We spoke with 18 deaf teenage girls who currently enjoy sport about the barriers they face:

  • Difficulty in finding appropriate activities outside of school
  • Feeling intimidated about starting a new activity
  • Feeling left out in a hearing environment
  • Bias against deaf girls in sport and physical activity
  • Lack of communication support.

These barriers leave many deaf girls feeling as though they don’t belong in sport.

There are over 51,000 deaf children in the UK, including over 17,000 secondary school-aged students. UK Deaf Sport and Women in Sport want to remove identified barriers so that deaf and hard of hearing girls can achieve their goals, whether that is taking part in grassroots sport, making their way to the Deaflympics, or anything in between.

Teenage girls playing rugby

Deaf People’s Inclusion in Sport Online Training

In collaboration with Accelerate Sport and eCoach, UK Deaf Sport have created a new Deaf People’s Inclusion in Sport eLearning course designed to help coaches and volunteers understand the barriers faced by deaf people to be active and how they can break down these barriers in their sessions.

This course is currently being used by National Governing Bodies of Sport, local sports clubs and other partners and is available for coaches and volunteers of any sport and can be accessed here.

Signposting girls to appropriate activities

UK Deaf Sport is implementing a new activity finder over the summer so the deaf community can search for ways to be active either by activity or their geographical location including in their local community.

Role models for deaf teenage girls

UK Deaf Sport is currently developing a new Marketing and Communications Strategy to raise awareness of elite and grassroots deaf sport, deaf athlete role models, the Deaflympics and other European and World Deaf Championships. We will continue to proactively celebrate the achievements of deaf female athletes through our social media channels and those of our partners and inspire every deaf person to be active.

UK Deaf Sport logo

More like this...

The Big Sister Project

The Big Sister project was created to help girls discover the joy of sport, with a helping hand from teenage girls.