To support football stadiums, clubs and national associations in providing a fully accessible and inclusive matchday experience, CAFE has published a guidance note on installing sensory viewing rooms at sports venues.

The document, which considers the advantages of installing sensory viewing rooms and some of the typical features of such a room, also includes suggestions on who may benefit from watching live football matches from a sensory viewing room.

A case study of the sensory viewing room at English Premier League club Watford is also included. Watford opened their sensory viewing room in January 2017, and the facility has been fully booked for every single match since. Over 60 families, including some away fans, have made use of the room and 5 children have been able to transition into using general access areas of the stadium as a result of using the room.

In addition to opening the sensory viewing room, Watford have also ensured that all staff working in and around the facility have received disability inclusion and etiquette training. This training helps staff to communicate in an inclusive and respectful manner with differently disabled people.

To download the CAFE guidance notes (PDF), please click here.

Upon publishing the guidance note, CAFE Managing Director Joanna Deagle said, “Installing a sensory viewing room can have a life-changing impact on many disabled fans. Learning disabled fans, autistic fans, fans with dementia and mental health problems can all benefit from using a sensory viewing room, as well as many other disabled fans”.

“Through this guidance note and our continued work, we hope to bring about a greater level of understanding and awareness to ensure that the beautiful game is truly accessible for all”, added Joanna.

Dave Messenger, Watford FC’s Supporter Liaison & Disability Access Officer, said “We are delighted to have been invited to provide a case study for CAFE. We are proud of the impact our Sensory Viewing Room has had in our local area and beyond, and hope our experience can inspire and assist other clubs. We look forward to seeing more rooms opening across Europe”.

CAFE would like to thank Dave and Watford FC for sharing their case study. We also wish to thank The Shippey Campaign and Heather Wildsmith from Open Up To Autism for their support in creating this guidance note.

For further information, please feel free to contact CAFE at [email protected] or call +44 (0)208 065 5108.

Published 18/02/2019