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Haptic Shirts Help Deaf Football Fans Feel the Noise



Deaf fans and fans with hearing loss of Newcastle United FC will experience the atmosphere of a live football match for the first time ever this weekend.


The club’s front-of-shirt sponsor Sela will supply groundbreaking haptic shirts to transform the noise at St James Park at Saturday’s home league game (April 13) versus Tottenham Hotspur into a touch sensation in real time..


The shirts, which look like a normal replica jersey, turn sound into touch using special sensors and motors, known as haptic technology. The sound from microphones hidden all around the ground is transmitted to tiny motors embedded in the fabric of the shirt. These vibrate and light up in response to the atmosphere in the ground. 


Fans - like David Wilson and Ryan Gregson (pictured) – and the match day mascots, who are deaf or have hearing loss, will be wearing the shirts in the stands.

 

Sela, a leading live events and experiences company has been the driving force behind the initiative as a demonstration of their commitment to using innovation to provide unforgettable moments to all fans.

 

To ensure the legacy of the occasion, Sela has committed to providing this technology at all future Newcastle United home games and hopes its actions will inspire football clubs across the Premier League, Europe and beyond to build on efforts to improve accessibility.

 

The match will also see Sela donate its front-of-shirt sponsorship to the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), the national charity supporting the 12 million people in the UK who are deaf, have hearing loss or tinnitus.

 

This is set to be a historic occasion, marking the first time a hearing loss charity has been promoted on a Premier League front-of-shirt, as well as the launch of the cutting-edge shirts.

 

Research by RNID has revealed that 71% of people surveyed by the charity who are deaf and have hearing loss believe new technology can be used to improve the matchday experience and make live sporting events more accessible.


According to the research released last year, 93% of deaf people agree you can’t beat the thrill of watching a live sport event in a stadium.


 “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,” said Teri Devine, Director for Inclusion at RNID.

 

“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.”


Photo credit: Lucy Ray/PA Media

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