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Sports programme for people with hearing loss

23 September, 2013
L-R Wales Deaf Rugby Union's Sophie Carhill, Laura Johnson, Ben Dryden, Tommy Clarke, Jamie Cullen, Gwesyn Price Jones, Newport Gwent-Dragons women’s coach, Corey Hillman, Simon Page from Specsavers, Matthew Roberts and WDRU player Chris Haddock

Ebbw Vale's Specsavers store has lent its support to a Wales Deaf Rugby programme designed to get young people who are deaf or hard of hearing into sport.

Wales Deaf Rugby was formed in 1998, and the team won the inaugural and only World Deaf Rugby Championship held to date, in 2002, by defeating hosts New Zealand 28-14 in the final.

So, as a provider of digital hearing aids, for all ages, the Specavers Hearing Centre in Bethcar Street, is backing the Wales Deaf Rugby Union’s (WDRU) Community Strategy Programme. This offers children from schools and deaf units across Wales the opportunity to participate in rugby skills sessions organised by Wales Rugby Union regional coaches and WDRU volunteers.

The WDRU President, Dennis Gethin, explained about the programme that Specsavers Ebbw Vale is supporting: 'Through the community programme, we aim to develop a pathway that will allow us to identify young rugby talent and secure players for the future'.

In support of the programme, Simon Page, one of the Specsavers store’s administrator, popped in to Abertillery Comprehensive School to offer a help in hand at the session, which was led by Welsh Deaf Rugby Union player Chris Haddock. More than 10 pupils aged 12-14 from the school who are coping with hearing or learning difficulties took part in the hour-long session.

Simon Page told of his pride in supporting Wales Deaf Rugby Union and the great work it does in getting people who are deaf, hard of hearing or those with learning difficulties to participate in sports: ‘It was great to witness this first hand and to see the children with smiles on their faces, really getting involved in the drills and enjoying themselves’.

Coping with hearing loss

‘We also want to show young people that coping with hearing loss does not have to stop you getting involved in the things you enjoy, such as rugby or sport in general. With the backing of Specsavers, we are taking that message to deaf schools and units across Wales.’

This is on the back of Specsavers on-going sponsorship of the WDRU, making us the official provider of audiology testing to the WDRU and of state-of-the-art Bluetooth hearing aids to its players. Specsavers is the largest retail dispenser of digital hearing aids in Wales, providing hearing services in 21 high street centres.

'Through our partnership with the WDRU, we hope to raise awareness of the importance of regular hearing tests to spot the onset of problems as well as highlight how there are sophisticated hearing aids available nowadays that enable people with hearing loss to achieve many of the same things that people with perfect hearing can.'

You don't need to be profoundly or totally deaf to qualify for deaf rugby; you only need a combined average hearing loss of 25db or more in both ears. This is equivalent to minimum hearing loss in both ears, or a moderate hearing loss in one ear but normal hearing in the other.

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