Enhancing equality in sport: informing the development of a standardised starting system for deaf athletes

Lead Research Organisation: Bangor University
Department Name: Sch of Sport Health and Exercise Sci


Context: Currently, no standardised sprint 'starting-system' exists for deaf athletes in the UK. Deaf athletes compete alongside hearing athletes using a range of different starting stimuli. NGBs suggest that this variability and inequality causes disadvantages for deaf athletes and inhibits entry and progression into the sport. As more deaf athletes are recruited and retained, there is a need to identify a starting-system, which enables equality with regards to fair competition and opportunities to progress through mainstream talent-pathways. Furthermore, evidence suggests that faster RTs/starting block clearance has significant effects on performance; RTs are directly influenced by stimulus modality (e.g. auditory is faster than visual).

However, sensory deprivation can result in sensory facilitation in other sensory pathways (Shiell et al., 2016) e.g. enhanced visual-perceptive systems in deaf individuals (Dye et al., 2009). Furthermore, researchers have revealed advantages of bi-modal sensory stimuli as a result of multi-sensory integration theory (Diedrich & Colonius, 2004) and enhanced RTs to different combinations of stimuli (Wallace et al., 1996).

Aim: The project aims to inform the development of an equality-based starting system in track and field athletics.

Research Questions:

Does an equality-based starting system promote an increase in deaf individuals entering and progressing through the talent-pathway?

What are athletes' perceptions of different starting systems, specifically with regards to ease of use, performance, fairness and overall preference?

Are there differences in equality for athletes' start times when hearing and deaf athletes compete alongside each other? Do these differ depending on the mode of starting stimulus e.g. auditory versus visual, tactile or bi-modal stimuli?

Are there motor-control phenomenon's, which may cause unfair advantages to hearing athletes when competing alongside deaf athletes e.g. startle effect?

1) Detailed qualitative case studies of athletes at different stages of the talent-pathway will complement focus group and questionnaire-based analyses and help identify perceived barriers for deaf athletes.

2) Qualitative focus groups and questionnaire data will be used to assess 'perceptions of liking' with regards to different starting systems.

3) Quantitative RT data will be collected over a series of lab-based/field-based studies across deaf and hearing individuals using different sensory stimuli (auditory/visual/tactile/bi-modal) with and without training.

4) EMG data will be collected to investigate pre-motor activity as a measure of movement planning.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P00069X/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
2227192 Studentship ES/P00069X/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2022 Elizabeth Rosemary Steele