An audio-descriptive commentary service was provided by FIFA at all 2014 FIFA World Cup matches played in Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

Since March 2014, volunteer commentators received expert training in collaboration with CAFE and Urece. This proved to be a hugely popular project delivered by FIFA, and one which helped many disabled fans to attend live football matches, many for the first time ever. To give further exposure to the project, CAFE provided a demonstration of audio-descriptive commentary for assembled delegates at Great Britain House in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The demonstration of what makes audio-descriptive commentary such a unique service was arranged in cooperation with the British Consulate and Urece – CAFE’s local partner in Brazil. Delegates included British Ambassador in Brazil Alex Ellis, UK Minister for Sport, Tourism and Equalities Helen Grant MP and FA Chairman Greg Dyke.

CAFE Managing Director Joyce Cook spoke about how similar audio-descriptive commentary services provided at previous tournaments such as UEFA EURO 2012 had changed the lives of many disabled people, including some who attended live football matches having previously never left their homes.

Joyce also outlined the differences between television, radio and audio-descriptive commentaries, saying that there is a lot of visual information that sighted people automatically take-in without always realising. Describing these visual details for blind and partially sighted listeners is key to providing a successful audio-descriptive commentary service.

A specially trained audio-descriptive commentator provides additional narration that describes all significant visual information such as body language, facial expression, scenery, action, clothing, colours and anything else that is important to conveying the image, venue, match, event and its surrounding ambience. During the match, the commentator should describe the on-pitch action and stadium activities rather than talking about statistics or tactics or providing lengthy summaries of previous action.

Urece Projects & Events Coordinator, International Relations Manager Gabriel Mayr spoke about how this project is a pioneering service being provided in Brazil. Gabriel drew on his experiences in volunteering with the Great Britain blind football team in 2005, and how he never dreamt of being able to provide audio-descriptive commentary in Brazilian stadiums at a FIFA World Cup.

Gabriel then gave a short demonstration of audio-descriptive commentary to give a better understanding of the service to the delegates. Some of the delegates then had the opportunity to have a try at providing audio-descriptive commentary for the first time.

Urece President Anderson Dias, a blind football fan, player and Paralympic champion, then spoke about how happy he is that FIFA provided audio-descriptive commentary at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. He said that football is a very strong tool for integrating blind people into society, saying that half of the blind and partially sighted fans who attended a recent match in Rio de Janeiro had never been to a football match before and couldn’t wait for their next trip to the stadium.

Joyce rounded off the presentation by reminding the delegates of the importance of inclusion and good access and reflected on the opportunities provided by large sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup to affect lasting social change. Finally, she asked each participant to take just ten seconds when entering a building to think about access for disabled people and a further ten seconds to ask a question about accessibility. Joyce said, “Just by asking this question you will help to raise awareness. Without proper access disabled people are automatically excluded.”

“By working together, we can make the world truly inclusive for everyone and there is no better place to demonstrate that commitment than football”.

The presentation was a great opportunity to gain further exposure for CAFE and our works, and we would like to thank everyone involved for their cooperation. CAFE would like to thank all of the delegates for attending, and we hope that the presentation and demonstration proved to be useful to them.

CAFE would also like to extend a special thanks to FIFA for their support and assistance in making the project and this presentation possible.

Published 15/07/2014