Disability Sports Wales full of new idEARs!

Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure of hosting a workshop at the Disability Sports Wales Officer National Conference to a very friendly crew of 20 officers in Wrexham.

The aim of the session was for delegates to have a platform to take some time to…

  1. Think about why the sense of hearing is so important
  2. Learn about the basic physiology of hearing (through the power of guitar, beads, funnel, pipe cleaner, play dough….by golly we had a jolly time!)
  3. Understand what happens if something goes wrong with the hearing system
  4. Think about how hearing loss and auditory processing disorder can affect overall quality of life (and understanding that it is different for each individual!)
  5. Think about how hearing loss can affect communication in sport and what we can do to overcome communication hurdles in a variety of sport

We had some really wonderful conversations and I hope that the session will have sparked some food for thought about how we can get more people with hearing loss, no matter their degree of loss, participating in sport. It became clear as the day went on that it is the responsibility of the providers to be more aware of how to adapt their communication style (including their marketing perhaps!) so that people with hearing loss don’t feel they have to necessarily go to specialist sessions, so that they can fully engage in mainstream sport to the best of their ability.

At the end of the day, I was able to warmly welcome a special guest to speak to the group, Profoundly Deaf Wales Deaf Rugby Player, Owen Jones. 19 year old Owen, who developed hearing loss due to Meningitis when he was little, took time out of his busy schedule to tell us all about how he got into Rugby and to share his experiences of communication when playing mainstream Rugby with Mold RFC and for Wales Deaf Rugby.

He spoke frankly about his experiences at school when playing sport and spoke with passion and joy about when he was chosen to represent Wales to travel to and play against South Africa.

Owen is an absolute inspiration for any one with hearing loss thinking about taking up sport.

I’ll be keeping my eye out for this rising star as he grows up. Thank-you for sharing with us, Owen.