Scottish Curling Deaf-friendly programme

Breaking the ice

Scottish Curling is leading the way in making the ice more accessible

Curling is a sport that people with a range of different abilities can participate in alongside each other.

Scottish Curling is working hard to ensure they are as inclusive as possible in order to give everyone the opportunity to take part. Among the programmes they are developing is their British Sign Language (BSL) and Deaf-friendly programme.

It became apparent that some of the D/deaf participants felt excluded and unable to participate fully due to the barriers in communication. As a result, and in partnership with staff from the Department of Languages & Intercultural Studies at Heriot-Watt University, some new BSL signs were proposed for the technical curling terms, which would allow D/deaf participants the opportunity to learn to play the game and communicate more easily.

New BSL signs

Through the support of the University, D/deaf participants and interpreters, over 30 new BSL signs were created and an open session was held in March to allow participants the chance to try curling alongside learning these new signs. A priority was to ensure that access to the information regarding the session was made as easy as possible for the participants in mind to understand and digest, therefore BSL videos were used to promote the session through the Scottish Curling social media channels.

“D/deaf people take part in sport for the same reasons as hearing people – fun, fitness, friendships and some competition” said Helen Kallow, Scottish Curling’s Disability Development Officer.

“Curling is quite a visual sport, with lots of signs already being used to describe the shot/weight called for. These new signs will allow the D/deaf players to take part in coaching sessions as well as discuss the game socially - an important aspect for full participation and integration in the sport. As many of the signs are very visual and related to the actual thing being described, it also leads to clearer understanding.”

The first session welcomed 30 participants from the D/deaf community to The National Curling Academy at the Peak, Stirling with people travelling the length of the country to attend. There is hope that the initiative can welcome more BSL users to attend and play more regularly.



As Bruce Crawford, Chief Executive at Scottish Curling explains:

“Curling is a sport with a level playing field. Everyone uses the same stones, throws them the same distance, so regardless of who you are it is a very fair and open sport.”

“It has been a really interesting programme where we have reached out to include new people in sport from the Deaf community.

"We hope that these sessions will stimulate the interest in curling and contribute to encouraging more BSL users to participate in the sport and allow us to develop local curling groups. From there we can begin to develop player pathways for progression.

"Who knows? We might hopefully be welcoming along one of Scotland’s newest medal contenders!”

Curling for all

Scottish Curling run many other inclusive programmes to cater for all needs which include:

  • Wheelchair Curling
  • Vision Impaired
  • Physical Impairments
  • Autism-friendly
  • Learning disabilities

Find out more

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