Newcastle United introduces 'sound shirts' for deaf fans to 'feel' the atmosphere of the crowd

Newcastle United fans David Wilson and Ryan Gregson unveil the new shirt. Credit: Lucy Ray / PA

Newcastle United have introduced 'sound shirts', designed to give deaf fans a sensory experience of match day at St James' Park.

The shirts turns sound into touch using special sensors and motors, known as haptic technology. It will allow people to "feel" the noise and atmosphere of the stadium.

Fans will be able to use the new kit at a football match for the first time when The Magpies host Tottenham on Saturday 13 April.

Fans and the match day mascots, who are deaf or have hearing loss, will be wearing the shirts in the stands.

Sela, Newcastle United’s front-of-shirt sponsor, are behind the initiative.

They said that they hope this technology will inspire other football clubs across the Premier League, Europe and beyond to adopt this technology, and build on efforts to improve accessibility.

An explanation of how the 'sound shirts' work. Credit: Sela

"This inspiring campaign is highly innovative and the first-of-its-kind", Peter Silverstone, Chief Commercial Officer at Newcastle United said.

He added that it "would make such an impact to our supporters."

Ibrahim Mohtaseb, Senior Vice President of Sela, said: "St James’ Park is renowned for its noise and passion. Through this initiative we hope to enable deaf fans and fans with hearing loss to feel a part of this."

Saturday's match will also see Sela donate its front-of-shirt sponsorship to RNID, a national charity supporting the 12 million people in the UK who are deaf, have hearing loss or tinnitus.

It will be the first time a hearing loss charity has been promoted on a Premier League front-of-shirt.

It comes as RNID conducted research into accessibility in football, surveying 180 people who are deaf and have hearing loss.

71% of people said they believed new technology can be used to improve the matchday experience and make live sporting events more accessible.

Kieran Trippier and Dan Burn met with deaf fans at the Newcastle United Foundation to invite them to be mascots for Saturday's clash. Credit: Sela

RNID have said that the launch is "fantastic", and that the club are "leading the way in championing this technology".

Teri Devine, Director for Inclusion at RNID, said: "It has the potential to have a real and lasting impact on how people who are deaf and have hearing loss experience live sports."

"One in five adults in the UK are deaf or have hearing loss, but people often face barriers in everyday life – including in live sports events.

"We’re excited to be part of this collaboration and we hope this exposure opens up conversations amongst football fans about hearing loss and encourages other football clubs to raise their game and make sure deaf fans are fully included."

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