Sela's 'Unsilence The Crowd' Breaks Barriers in Football Accessibility

VML division PRISM Sport + Entertainment's ad has been released to mark Deaf Awareness Week

By Creative Salon

To revolutionise the way deaf fans engage with the game and raise awareness of accessibility issues in football stadiums, live events and experiences company Sela, has launched ‘Unsilence The Crowd’ to mark Deaf Awareness Week.

The ad has resulted in a series of world firsts, improved fan accessibility in football by using haptic technology and raised awareness of the live sports experience for people who are deaf or have hearing loss.

The campaign has seen Sela, the leading front-of-shirt sponsor of Newcastle United FC, supported by PRISM Sport + Entertainment, a division of VML, and communications and strategy advisors, Spectacle Partners. It has been delivered in partnership with Newcastle United FC and The Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID), the national charity for people who are deaf or have hearing loss or tinnitus.

Following research gathered by RNID, which revealed 71 per cent of people surveyed believe new technology can be used to improve the matchday experience and make live sporting events more accessible, Sela set out to improve the fan experience.

Sela, PRISM Sport + Entertainment and wearable technology experts, CuteCircuit, collaborated to introduce haptic technology into replica match shirts to transform the noise of the stadium into real-time touch sensations that allow deaf fans and fans with hearing loss to experience the atmosphere of a football match in a completely new way.

Ibrahim Mohtaseb, senior vice president of Sela, said: "Ensuring every fan can experience the amazing atmosphere is so important to us as a sponsor of Newcastle United.

"St. James’ Park is renowned for its noise and passion. Through this initiative, we hope to enable deaf fans and fans with hearing loss to feel a part of this.

"We would welcome the whole football family to join us by adopting the technology. By acting now, we can collectively make watching live football matches an incredible experience for everyone who loves the game.”

Debuting at the Premier League game against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, April 13, deaf fans, David Wilson and Ryan Gregson were among those in the crowd to experience the technology. All 11 mascots for the game were members of the Deaf community and wore haptic shirts to run out onto the pitch with the players and then enjoyed the game from the stands.

Wilson commented: “What a game, what a day, what a shirt. I felt part of the singing, part of the stadium. The vibrations just continued through the full game. We felt involved in all the goals and all the singing, so I just want to say thank you.”

Gregson added: “That’s the best top ever. We felt the music, the singing, everything was included all in the top; it was brilliant. At 4-0, the vibrations were amazing. I’m so happy, I would like to wear it every game.”

The first stage of the campaign today reached its culmination today with the launch of a powerful film that has followed David and Ryan’s stories and the takeover of the Premier League match. Produced in collaboration with PRISM S + E and Mighty Fine Productions, and directed by Dominic O'Riordan, the film charts the development of the technology and inspirational scenes that took place at Newcastle United’s home ground of St. James’ Park.

Shane O’Sullivan, MD of PRISM Sport + Entertainment, said: “Fans are the heart of football and from the outset of the campaign, Sela sought to set a new benchmark for fan experience to increase inclusivity and redefine the spectacular. Following the launch of Unsilence The Crowd the reception has been inspirational and everyone at PRISM S+E and VML are thrilled to have been a part of this.

“The technology used has the potential to redefine how fans can experience live sport and we look forward to furthering this in the months to come as the legacy of the campaign is seen with the technology adopted across Europe and wider afield.”

In addition to the haptic sound shirts, the film also celebrates Sela’s donation of its front-of-shirt sponsorship for the launch match to RNID, the national charity supporting the 12 million people in the UK who are deaf, have hearing loss or tinnitus. This was 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.

To ensure the legacy of the occasion, Sela has committed to providing this technology at all future Newcastle United home games. The company hopes its actions will inspire football clubs across the Premier League, Europe, and beyond to build on efforts to improve accessibility and will be taking the technology on tour over the coming months to showcase the innovation in markets across the globe.


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