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Feeling the Roar: Newcastle breaks new ground for deaf fans

Revolutionary haptic shirts to bring the roar of St James’ Park to life for deaf football fans

Feeling the Roar: Newcastle breaks new ground for deaf fans

In an unprecedented move to make football matches more inclusive for deaf fans, St James’ Park, the home of Newcastle United, is set to introduce revolutionary haptic shirt technology during its Premier League game against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, 13 April.

In partnership with their front-of-shirt sponsor Sela, Newcastle United will feature the RNID logo on their jerseys to highlight the initiative.

The cutting-edge haptic shirts, designed to transform stadium noise into real-time touch sensations, will be donned by deaf fans and match day mascots, offering them a unique way to feel the game’s atmosphere. This technology aims to bridge the gap for fans who are deaf or have hearing loss, allowing them to experience the thrill of live sports in a way that was previously out of reach.

Sela and Newcastle United’s collaboration on this initiative is a response to research conducted by RNID, which found that a significant majority of deaf and hearing-impaired people believe that new technologies can enhance their match day experience. Indeed, 93% of those surveyed expressed that nothing compares to the excitement of watching a live sports event in a stadium.

The game on 13 April will not only be a regular Premier League match but also a milestone for inclusivity in sports, marking the debut of this haptic technology for fans like Ryan and David, lifelong Newcastle United supporters and deaf individuals who communicate using British Sign Language (BSL). Their story, part of the “Unsilence The Crowd” campaign, underscores the initiative’s potential to transform the live sports experience for deaf and hearing-impaired fans.

In a significant step towards making live sports more accessible to people with hearing impairments, Teri Devine, Director for Inclusion at RNID, lauded the efforts of Sela and Newcastle United. Devine said:

“One in five adults in the UK are deaf or have hearing loss, but people often face barriers in everyday life – including in live sports events. It’s fantastic to see Sela and Newcastle United leading the way in championing this technology which has the potential to have a real and lasting impact on how people who are deaf and have hearing loss experience live sports.

We’re excited to be part of this collaboration and we hope this exposure opens up conversations amongst football fans about hearing loss and encourages other football clubs to raise their game and make sure deaf fans are fully included.”

Highlighting a groundbreaking initiative aimed at enhancing the live football experience for fans with hearing disabilities, Ibrahim Mohtaseb, Senior Vice President of Sela, emphasised the company’s commitment to inclusivity at Newcastle United matches. Mohtaseb shared:

“Ensuring every fan is able to experience the amazing atmosphere is so important to us as a sponsor of Newcastle United.

St. James’ Park is renowned for its noise and passion. Through this initiative we hope to enable deaf fans and fans with hearing loss to feel a part of this.

We would welcome the whole football family to join us by adopting the technology. By acting now, we can collectively make watching live football matches an incredible experience for everyone who loves the game.”

Peter Silverstone, Chief Commercial Officer at Newcastle United, expressed strong support for a novel inclusion initiative, stating:

“When Sela shared the idea and technology behind the haptic shirts, we supported the concept immediately, knowing it would make such an impact to our supporters who are deaf or have hearing loss.

Newcastle United’s partnership with Sela continues to provide spectacular experiences for our growing global fanbase. We are also proud that, together, we can shine a light on the positive work of Newcastle United Foundation as well as the City of Newcastle, itself.

This inspiring campaign is highly innovative and the first-of-its-kind. “Unsilence the Crowd” fills everybody associated with this initiative with deep pride, from all Newcastle United, Newcastle United Foundation, Sela and RNID, along with all stakeholders who have helped make this possible.

We believe that “Unsilence the Crowd” will be truly game-changing for football and expect this campaign will revolutionise the football experience for any fan who is deaf or has hearing loss, regardless of which team they support.”

The introduction of haptic shirts at Newcastle United games is poised to set a precedent for other clubs to follow, highlighting the importance of making football accessible to all fans, regardless of hearing abilities.

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