Good news for visually impaired

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Pretoria - Soccer fans who are visually impaired need not worry that they will miss out on the biggest football spectacle ever. Thanks to FIFA, who have made special arrangements so that the upcoming World Cup can be equally enjoyed by all.

Six host stadiums will each have 15 seats equipped with headphones, and trained commentators who will be reporting live on the action happening down on the pitch.

In addition, each of these six stadiums will have 15 seats that will be allocated to their sighted guides who will accompany them, while specially trained volunteers will provide assistance within the stadiums.

This is a premier in South Africa's sporting landscape.

The six stadiums are Soccer City, Coca-Cola Park, Loftus Versfeld, Moses Mabhida, Nelson Mandela Bay and Green Point in Cape Town.

The initiative, launched by the Swiss National Association for the Blind (SNAB) and the South African National Council for the Blind (SANCB) and financially supported by FIFA, is aimed at making the tournament accessible to all.

FIFA Partner, Sony, is providing the necessary transmitters that will allow people to receive match-day commentary in the stadiums free of charge.

The SANCB is ensuring that the tickets are fairly allocated and only a very limited number of tickets are still available for 19 matches via

FIFA President Sepp Blatter described football as a universal sport and that must be accessible to everyone.

"We are therefore delighted to be able to make this unique live experience in the stadium also accessible to visually impaired and blind people.

"This project is another launching pad for South African sports and will create a legacy with services and facilities at football grounds for visually impaired and blind South Africans," he said.

The Institute of Advancement of Journalism (IAJ) was responsible for sourcing, training and coordinating the audio descriptors, while the Academy of Sound Engineering students will perform the technical audio functions that will be necessary to ensure that the audio descriptions are correctly transmitted to the visually impaired fans at the stadiums.