Audio-descriptive commentary (ADC) is a key matchday service for partially sighted and blind football fans. To mark the launch of the CAFE Audio-descriptive Commentary Network and Training Programme, we spoke with a number of disabled fans who have had their matchday experiences transformed.

In the context of a live football match, ADC ensures that the partially sighted or blind fan has a complete understanding of the match he or she is attending. The specially trained 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 or surrounding ambience.

Larissa Sayevich is a partially sighted football fan from Ukraine, and has been a close friend of CAFE since our works around UEFA EURO 2012. Larissa said, “When we go to see the game and don’t get any information, we don’t even know who kicked the ball”.

“ADC is vital, and the only way that we can truly feel part of the game like non-disabled fans. For me, ADC is the key that opens the door to the very heart of football”, added Larissa.

Larissa’s story began back in 2012, when she listened to audio-descriptive commentary for the first time at the UEFA EURO 2012 semi-final in Donetsk. Larissa said, “I thought I knew what to expect, but even for me it was like I had regained my sight – someone had shared their sight with me”.

Iryna Koroi and her husband are also partially sighted fans from Ukraine. Iryna said, “I am proud to say that thanks to the audio descriptive commentary, we can "see" what is happening on the pitch during the match”.

“We like to come to the stadium and with tens of thousands of other fans to experience excitement, which you cannot get in front of TV screen”, added Iryna.

Another strong advocate of audio-descriptive commentary is Dr Hannah Thompson, who said that she would simply not attend a match where the service is not available.

Hannah said, “A match without audio-descriptive commentary is a really disappointing experience; confusing and frustrating. I feel completely cut off from the action, marginalized and unvalued as a fan”.

“The service completely transforms my matchday experience. Not only does it allow me to follow the game alongside other fans, it also gives me a great sense of what is happening inside the stadium before the match”, added Hannah, who also published a blog outlining her experiences of using audio-descriptive commentary at UEFA EURO 2016. The blog is a very interesting read, and can be viewed at

For now, we give the last word to Larissa, who said, “I can only compare a stadium without ADC to visiting a restaurant. I can go in without encountering any physical barriers, I can easily find my table, and I can read the menu and even smell what is been cooked. But I cannot eat, despite everyone else around me is enjoying the food. Lots of delicious food and happy people surround me, but I remain hungry”.

For more information about the CAFE Audio-descriptive Commentary Network and Training Programme, please email [email protected] or call +44 (0)208 065 5108.

A version of this article is also available in German and French.

Published 12/02/2018