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‘World first’ haptic shirts help deaf fans feel statium atmosphere

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Premier League football team Newcastle United are to introduce innovative haptic shirts at their match against Tottenham Hotspur this weekend, enabling deaf fans and those with hearing loss to experience the atmosphere of St. James’ Park.

The shirts transform the noise of the stadium into real-time touch sensation and will be debuted by both fans and mascots.

To ensure the legacy of the occasion, sponsor Sela has committed to providing the 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.

Sela will also donate its front-of-shirt sponsorship to RNID, the national charity supporting the 12 million people in the UK who are deaf, have hearing loss or tinnitus.

This game will mark the first time a hearing loss charity has been promoted on a Premier League front-of-shirt.

Peter Silverstone, Chief Commercial Officer at Newcastle United, said: “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.

“‘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 campaign is launched as research gathered by RNID reveals that 71 per cent  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 research released last year, 93 per cent of deaf people agree you can’t beat the thrill of watching a live sport event in a stadium.

Teri Devine, Director for Inclusion at RNID, 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.”

Image: Sela

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