An innovative Australian initiative has launched this month to promote greater inclusivity for athletes in competitive field sports. Hear Gear is a technologically advanced headgear designed by Steeden, that can be worn deaf and hard of hearing athletes, finally enabling them to hear the game, their teammates & participate fully and equally in the game at play.
Athletes with a hearing device require protective headgear to help keep their device safely in place. Traditional kits muffle sounds making it difficult for the wearer to be aware of all actions taking place in the game to the point of missing team cues and continuing play after a whistle has blown.
Redesigning the standard headgear, the padding has been removed and a recess for a hearing device to sit has been created for soundwaves to reach the implant. and to provide protection without limiting sound, empowering players to hear the game they play and its sounds more clearly.
Trying on Hear Gear for the first time, Jamie Howell, Deaf athlete and QAFLW player hears while playing on the field for the very first time. Jamie says, “Hear Gear is a very real game changer for not only me, but for the Deaf and hard of hearing community in Australia and around the world. Being able to hear the game I play professionally clearly, along with the voices of my team and people who have always supported me, makes all the difference.” Hear Gear has been designed for use across AFL but has the potential to extend into other contact sports where head protection is necessary.
Seeing a need for change and for greater inclusivity for Deaf and hard of hearing players, Colgate brought the initial idea to Steeden to develop a headgear that ensures deaf and hard of hearing players can compete on an even playing field. A prototype for Hear Gear was created, initial production runs funded by Colgate via Steeden, the sole owners of its design.
A campaign promoting Hear Gear will go live in April, seeking expressions of interest from Deaf or hard of hearing athletes to contribute to further development and help Hear Gear accommodate for the unique ways athletes wear their hearing implants. The deaf and hard of hearing community can find out more and register at www.heargear.com.au