The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC), has provided audio description service for fans with visual impairments in the matches hosted by Al Bayt Stadium and Education City as part of the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021™, which is currently being held in Doha and will continue until December 18 with the participation of 16 teams.
On the opening day of the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021™, thousands of spectators packed into Al Bayt Stadium to watch a stellar opening ceremony ahead of the match between hosts Qatar and Bahrain, fans were treated to an unforgettable evening that included live performances, fireworks, and 3D holograms of some of the Arab world's most influential artists, before taking in an action-packed 90 minutes of football.
Local man Faisal Al Kohaji was one of the excited supporters who attended the first major match at Al Bayt. Al Kohaji is blind and usually needs someone next to him to describe the action on the field, however, during this match, the audio descriptive commentary was delivered via an app on his phone.
Using his own headphones, Al Kohaji was able to listen to an Arabic-speaking commentator describe the opening ceremony and match in great detail, including important information about the stadium's ambiance and even the players' facial reactions.
Al Kohaji, a long-time supporter of the Qatar national team, said:
"When going to stadiums in the past, I have had to rely on the description of a sighted friend or make do by listening to a time-delayed video of the match on my phone, this technology, however, allows me to enjoy the action on the pitch in the same way that everyone else does."
"The commentary allowed me to immerse myself in the game. I love football and I want to know exactly what's going on with my favorite players, and how the team is performing, and Tuesday was one of the first times in the stands where I got to experience that."
The service has been featured at FIFA events before, including the two most recent FIFA World Cup tournaments in Russia and Brazil, but Qatar's opening match at the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021™ was the first time it was made available in the Arabic language.
In the build-up to the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021™, Qatar 2022 organizers have worked extensively with the disabled community through initiatives such as the Accessibility Forum a space where disabled people and the organizations that represent them meet regularly to discuss how the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ can be used to leave behind an accessible legacy for generations to come.
"With the FIFA Arab Cup being the last major event we host prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, we wanted to make sure that we deploy Arabic language audio descriptive commentary in some of the tournament venues, with plans to roll out at all stadiums when Qatar hosts the FIFA World Cup just under a year from now," said Sustainability Senior Manager at Q22, Jose Retana.
"Accessibility and inclusion are at the heart of our plans to deliver a sustainable FIFA World Cup, one that would leave a positive human legacy for the region long after the tournament ends by introducing accessibility features such as audio descriptive commentary in football stadiums, we are increasing their visibility to the wider community and providing the disabled community with the necessary tools to access spaces, content and services in the stands and beyond," added Retana.
Audio descriptive commentators were specially trained as part of a joint project between the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 LLC (Q22), the Translation and Interpreting Institute at Hamad Bin Khalifa University and the Centre for Access to Football in Europe.
Audio descriptive commentary is available throughout the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021™ at Al Bayt and Education City stadiums. Fans wanting to make use of the service must download the FIFA Interpreting app (available on the App Store and Google Play) and connect to a dedicated audio stream. After downloading the app, users must insert "ADCECS" as the event code for matches held at Education City Stadium and "ADCABS" for matches held at Al Bayt Stadium.
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