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RNID goes to the Premier League! 

The RNID brand will fill St James’ Park on Saturday 13 April, as revolutionary technology allows deaf football fans to experience the game like never before. 

Lifelong Newcastle United fans, Ryan and David, are both deaf and use BSL. Photo credit: Lucy Ray/PA Media

We’ll be cheering on Newcastle United when they take to the pitch with the RNID logo on their shirts in a Premier League clash with Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday 13 April, as part of an initiative to make football and live sport more accessible for deaf people. 

Newcastle United’s front-of-shirt sponsor Sela is introducing groundbreaking haptic shirts that will enable deaf fans to feel the atmosphere of the crowd for Premier League game against Spurs. 

The shirts transform the noise of the stadium into real-time touch sensation. Fans and the match day mascots, who are deaf or have hearing loss, will be wearing the shirts in the stands.  

In an exciting move, the haptic technology will be available for deaf fans at all future Newcastle United games, which we hope will inspire other football clubs to make the experience more inclusive for deaf people and people with hearing loss. 

This activity comes as research gathered by RNID reveals that 71% of people surveyed who are deaf and have hearing loss believe new technology can be used to improve the matchday experience and make live sporting events more accessible. 

According to research released last year, 93% of deaf people agree you can’t beat the thrill of watching a live sport event in a stadium. 

The “Unsilence The Crowd” campaign follows the journey of lifelong Newcastle United fans, Ryan and David, who are both deaf and use British Sign Language (BSL) to communicate. They have been coming to St. James’ Park to support Newcastle United since they were children and on Saturday 13 April, they will be experiencing the legendary atmosphere of St. James’ Park through haptic shirts for the first time ever. 

Newcastle United versus Tottenham Hotspur will take place at 12:30 GMT on Saturday 13 April at St. James’ Park.  

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Teri Devine, Director for Inclusion at RNID, said: 

“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. It’s fantastic to see Sela and Newcastle United leading the way in championing this technology which has the potential to have a real and lasting impact on how people who are deaf and have hearing loss experience live sports.  

“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.”  

Ibrahim Mohtaseb, Senior Vice President of Sela, said: 

“Ensuring every fan is able to experience the amazing atmosphere is so important to us as a sponsor of Newcastle United. 

“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. 

“We would welcome the whole football family to join us by adopting the technology. By acting now, we can collectively make watching live football matches an incredible experience for everyone who loves the game.” 

Peter Silverstone, Chief Commercial Officer at Newcastle United, said: 

“When Sela shared the idea and technology behind the haptic shirts, we supported the concept immediately, knowing it would make such an impact to our supporters who are deaf or have hearing loss. 

“Newcastle United’s partnership with Sela continues to provide spectacular experiences for our growing global fanbase. We are also proud that, together, we can shine a light on the positive work of Newcastle United Foundation as well as the City of Newcastle, itself.

“This inspiring campaign is highly innovative and the first-of-its-kind. “Unsilence the Crowd” fills everybody associated with this initiative with deep pride, from all Newcastle United, Newcastle United Foundation, Sela and RNID, along with all stakeholders who have helped make this possible. 

“We believe that “Unsilence the Crowd” will be truly game-changing for football and expect this campaign will revolutionise the football experience for any fan who is deaf or has hearing loss, regardless of which team they support.” 

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