Helping the blind watch football

11th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

14 February 2005 , DUESSELDORF - More and more German Bundesliga clubs have introduced programmes that allow blind - or partially blind - football fans to enjoy matches in the stadiums. Trained commentators transmit running commentary for fans with special needs via headphones that are supplied by the clubs and allow the fans to partake in all the action: Who has the ball, who is substituted or what is written on the scoreboard. Bayer Leverkusen was the first club to offer the service in 1999. The then hea

14 February 2005 

DUESSELDORF - More and more German Bundesliga clubs have introduced programmes that allow blind - or partially blind - football fans to enjoy matches in the stadiums.

Trained commentators transmit running commentary for fans with special needs via headphones that are supplied by the clubs and allow the fans to partake in all the action: Who has the ball, who is substituted or what is written on the scoreboard.

Bayer Leverkusen was the first club to offer the service in 1999. The then head of the football section of the club, Kurt Vossen, introduced the programme after being asked to do so by a nationwide association of blind or partially blind fans called "Sehhunde" (Seedogs).

The club now has 12 places reserved for blind fans.

Seven other clubs have since followed suit and offer the service of professional commentators, who are often also involved in youth work at the club.

Third division club St Pauli, on the other hand, uses their own fans to commentate. Nina Schweppe of the Sehhunde, however, says that that is not ideal.

"They often see only St Pauli and we do not want to have a biased commentary, we want to see everything."

For over a year the Sehhunde have been involved in implementing programmes in the stadiums to enable blind or partially blind fans to enjoy the games.

The new World Cup stadium in Munich, for instance, will have 15 seats reserved for them and there are moves to ensure similar facilities in other stadiums.

Schweppe explains that there is a big difference for blind fans between being in the stadium or listening to a radio or television commentary.

"The commentary in the stadium is much more detailed and nothing beats the atmosphere in the stadium," she says.

"More and more blind fans are coming to the stadium, although only in Leverkusen are all tickets reserved for blind fans actually taken. I believe this is because it is not yet widely known that clubs offer such a service."

The association is therefore not only fighting for more seats, but also for more publicity as only through that would blind or partially blind fans realise that they are welcome to attend matches.

"Another thing we are hoping, is that clubs themselves start realising that they need to do something and have seats for people with such special needs in all stadiums."

Schweppe says the association has a vision: "For the 2006 World Cup we would like to see every stadium having facilities for blind or partially blind fans. I am very hopeful that we will manage that." 

DPA

Subject: German news 

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