UEFA has been implementing an Audio-Description Commentary (ADC) service for blind and partially sighted fans throughout UEFA EURO 2016, aiming for the second consecutive finals to leave a lasting legacy in stadiums and improve access to football.

Audio description provides a specialist commentary to people with limited or no vision – with additional narration substituting visual information. Fans can either use their own radio to tune into the FM frequencies, or ask a EURO volunteer at the stadium to borrow one of the headsets made available for the occasion.

UEFA's objective is to expand access to live football, and to leverage the power of the sport to contribute to social inclusion. ADC is already available in countries such as Austria, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Ukraine and the UK, but this is a first in France.

UEFA has been working closely with social responsibility partner the Centre for Access to Football in Europe (CAFE) and stadium authorities as part of the UEFA EURO 2016 'Respect – Access for All' programme, the goal being to offer this service in French for the European tournament and also as a legacy initiative, with the broadcasting equipment donated to each host stadium after the finals.

Forty enthusiastic journalism students across France have been trained by CAFE and its local partner, Aveugles de France, to deliver the service to blind fans within the stadium. They describe the action on the pitch – the score, the goals and the positions of the players. The commentary extends to the players' facial expressions, match rituals, the colours of their kit, the haircuts, what happens in the stands, the fans' celebrations, their flags and outfits, and the overall atmosphere.

Kevin Vanderborght, a 32-year-old blind football fan, who left his home in Charleroi, Belgium, at 02:00 to support his team playing the Republic of Ireland in Bordeaux, shared his experience just after the game: "What I love most about football is the amazing atmosphere, to be surrounded by my friends here.

"It's very intense, we leave with lots of memories and we live big football games together. The audio description allows those of us with visual impairments to receive every detail of the atmosphere, and to experience intense emotions as real fans."

To watch a video of disabled fans using the service at UEFA EURO 2016, please click here.

Published 03/07/2016