Blind fans get audio facilities

IN ORDER to make the 2010 World Cup accessible to all, Fifa has announced that blind and visually impaired fans will be catered for at stadiums countrywide.

IN ORDER to make the 2010 World Cup accessible to all, Fifa has announced that blind and visually impaired fans will be catered for at stadiums countrywide.

Six stadiums will each have 15 seats equipped with headphones, and trained commentators will report live on the action on the pitch.

The stadiums are Soccer City (eight matches), Ellis Park Stadium (seven), Loftus (six), Moses Mabhida (seven), Nelson Mandela Bay (eight) and Green Point (eight).

Fifa said that the 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.

The initiative was launched by the Swiss National Association for the Blind and the South African National Council for the Blind (SANCB).

The programme is financially backed by Fifa, whose partner Sony will provide the necessary transmitters to provide visually impaired fans with match-day commentary in the stadiums free of charge.

The SANCB is ensuring that the tickets are fairly allocated. However, only a very limited number of tickets are still available on www.sancb.org.za for 19 matches.

"Football is a universal sport and it must be accessible to everyone," said Fifa president Sepp Blatter.

"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."

The Institute of Advancement of Journalism is responsible for sourcing, training and coordinating the commentators, while Academy of Sound Engineering students will undertake the technical audio functions necessary to ensure that visually impaired fans at the stadiums receive the audio transmissions.

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