Newcastle United introduce ‘sound shirts’ for deaf supporters

Newcastle United introduce ‘sound shirts’ for deaf supporters

Newcastle United fans Ryan Gregson and David Wilso wearing the "sound shirts"

Newcastle United have recently taken a ground-breaking step to make football matches at St James’s Park more accessible by introducing ‘sound shirts’  a revolutionary technology designed to provide deaf fans with a sensory experience of match day. This innovative initiative, supported by Sela, the club’s front-of-shirt sponsor, marks a significant milestone in the journey towards improving accessibility in football stadiums.

Imagine being able to ‘feel’ the roar of the crowd, the chanting, and the excitement of a football match. Thanks to haptic technology incorporated into the sound shirts, this is now a reality for deaf fans. These specially-designed shirts utilise sensors and motors to translate sound into touch, allowing wearers to immerse themselves in the electrifying atmosphere of the stadium.

At the heart of this exciting announcement is David, a client of Neural Pathways, a specialist brain and spinal injury rehabilitation and therapy company – part of the Active Care Group Case Management Division. David has been receiving support since September 2015, was born with cerebral palsy. Claire Marley, of Neural Pathways, said:

“We have been treating David since September 2015, David was born with cerebral palsy. Over the years we have provided input to help with his day to day function, which has included balance strength and encouraging him to participate more in community based therapy to help gain his independence.”

For David, attending the football match wearing his innovative sound shirt was a transformative experience. His mother told us that David’s adrenaline rush from the match hasn’t really stopped since the weekend, underlining the profound impact this initiative will have on deaf fans’ engagement with the sport they love.

Sela have played a pivotal role in driving this initiative forward. Their commitment to inclusivity and accessibility is evident through their support for the sound shirt project and their decision to donate their front-of-shirt sponsorship to RNID, a national charity dedicated to supporting people with hearing loss, deafness, and tinnitus. And this also marked the first time a charity for hearing loss has been on a Premier League team’s shirt. 

By introducing sound shirts and promoting awareness of accessibility issues in football stadiums, Newcastle United and Sela hope to inspire other clubs across the Premier League, Europe, and beyond to adopt similar technologies and initiatives, so more and more fans across the world can enjoy the matchday experience in full!

(Picture courtesy of BBC Sport.)