2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup to include Audio Descriptive Commentary in stadiums

The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup will include the use of Audio Descriptive Commentary (ADC) at host stadiums.

FIFA have confirmed that the upcoming tournament will be the ‘most inclusive’ ever as blind and partially-sighted supporters will have access to a commentary system which will give them detailed updates of on-pitch action while also experiencing stadium atmospheres.

ADC has previously been used in other recent FIFA tournaments, including the Men’s World Cup in Qatar in 2022, and will be widely available for this year’s Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Training programmes will begin running in the two host nations over the next fortnight, with aspiring ADC commentators to learn to focus on additional descriptive narration and significant visual information – factors include body language, facial expression, scenery, action, clothing and colours.

Speaking to FIFA, ADC participant Russ Gibbs said: “The Audio Descriptive Commentary was an opportunity to expand my skill set, and go back to what the old-school radio commentary was like. It’s a really intensive process. I’d recommend it for anybody, really, because it will improve your communication skills, improve your imagery, as well: you’ve got to have a look at everything that’s going on.”

Fellow participant Ellie Brush added: “To be able to describe the football game that we see to those that can’t see as well is something I really thought was a fantastic thing for FIFA to bring into the tournament and so it takes the game to everyone.”

Alan March, an ADC coach, said: “Audio description is for those spectators inside a sporting arena that are blind or visually impaired. It’s fantastic that we’ve now got not only the Men’s [FIFA] World Cup, but now the [FIFA] Women’s World Cup really showcasing access, and that’s what this is at the end of the day. This is an access tool that allowssomebody who perhaps thinks, ‘This event is out of bounds to me’. It’s not out of bounds anymore.”

The news has also been welcomed and endorsed by athletes. Tennis player and Beyond Greatness Champion Casey Dellacqua commented: “I’m super excited to be involved in the FIFA Women’s World Cup as a ‘Beyond Greatness Champion’. The legacy that a FIFA Women’s World Cup can leave behind is phenomenal, and I’m just super excited to be apart of it and, yeah, I can’t wait for it to all happen.”

Retired Paralympic gold-winning swimmer Ellie Cole added: “As an athlete myself, I’ve been very fortunate to be an athlete at four Paralympic Games, so I’ve really seen what inclusive design can do, what an accessible tournament can do for the athletes in particular…Really wants that inclusive design and that whole experience accessible to all the spectators, is going to be really interesting. And, I think the world is moving in a really positive place in terms of accessibility in
sporting tournaments.”

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