Wolves improving matchdays for blind and partially-sighted

Wolves have joined forces with RNIB, the Royal National Institute of Blind People, to improve the Molineux matchday experience for blind and partially-sighted supporters.

RNIB have recently produced a guide showing how football clubs can make simple easy adaptions so matchdays are enjoyable and welcoming for fans with sight loss, and Wolves are one of a number of clubs to have assisted during its creation.

To tie in with International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3rd December, the Royal National Institute of Blind people (RNIB) have published their new research which highlights how blind and partially sighted fans want to attend football matches and identifies some of the challenges that they face when attending live matches.

Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of all blind and partially sighted people said they couldn’t experience or access a sporting event properly because a venue doesn’t accommodate for people with sight loss.

However, the research showed some positives with nearly two fifths (38 per cent) of blind and partially sighted people saying that their football stadiums had made a lot of adaptions to make the live viewing experience more accessible.

Tied in with this research, RNIB’s new guide, See Sport Differently Guidance, has been launched, having worked closely with Arsenal, Everton, Plymouth Argyle, Wolves and Wrexham to develop best practice, as well as holding focus groups with blind and partially sighted people to better understand the issues they face when attending live football matches.

RNIB has showed the clubs how best to welcome blind and partially sighted fans into their stadiums to ensure they are able enjoy football matches without feeling excluded. RNIB is now proactively sharing the guide with all English Football League (EFL) and Premier League clubs to make their stadiums more accessible to mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2023 on 3rd December.

Matt Stringer, RNIB’s chief executive, said: “Working with clubs across the football pyramid to create a guide that will enhance the matchday experience for people with sight loss has been a fantastic experience for us. I’m also thankful to the EFL for sharing the guidance with all its 72 member clubs. It contains some handy checklists and quick wins that clubs can implement to help make stadiums easier for blind and partially sighted fans to navigate.

“Live sporting events need to be easier for blind and partially sighted fans to enjoy. Our new research shows that getting to and from a stadium can be a difficult task for people with sight loss, coupled with when at the stadium, the facilities on offer are not accessible. I enjoy the matchday experience at Watford and blind and partially sighted fans should be able to do so as I do.

“It would make a big difference if matchday stewards and all fan-facing staff are trained to be sight loss aware. Making stadiums physical environment easy to navigate through clear signage, marked steps and marked handrails make a big difference in making blind and partially sighted people feel welcome. Also, technology such as audio description and quality match day commentary really helps brings the game to life and should be available at every fixture so that blind and partially sighted fans can fully enjoy the beautiful game.”

Charlotte Jones, a partially sighted Wolves season ticket holder from Cannock, said: “We need everyone to join in to help create a more inclusive match day for fans with sight loss. On matchdays, my Dad assists me with the challenges I face when attending matches, such as accessing the stadium and navigating through crowds and steps to get to our seats.

“We’ve received great support from the club who have helped us to select seats so that I can have the best spectator experience possible like sighted fans do. They’ve helped to locate seats where the sun wouldn’t be in my eyes during a game, which is very important as glare can affect my vision, and seats near to the halfway line so I can follow the game more easily.”