Newcastle United FC x RNID x Sela – Unsilence The Crowd

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To mark last week's Deaf Awareness Week, a film has been launched showcasing the Unsilence The Crowd campaign, which has been overseen by Sela, the live events and experiences company that is the front-of-shirt sponsor of Newcastle United FC. 

The campaign is also supported by PRISM Sport + Entertainment, a division of VML, and communications and strategy advisors Spectacle Partners, and has been delivered in partnership with Newcastle United FC and the Royal National Institute for Deaf people [RNID], the national charity for people who are deaf or have hearing loss or tinnitus.

Research gathered by RNID revealed 71% of the people surveyed believe that new technology can be used to improve the matchday experience and make live sporting events more accessible. With that in mind, Sela set out to improve the fan experience, collaborating with wearable technology experts, CuteCircuit, to introduce haptic technology into replica match shirts to transform the noise of the stadium into real-time touch sensations that allow deaf fans and fans with hearing loss to experience the atmosphere of a football match in a completely new way. 

Debuting at the Premier League game against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday April 13, deaf fans David Wilson and Ryan Gregson, plus all 11 mascots for the game, were in the crowd to experience the technology, and the above film, directed by Dominic O'Riordan through Mighty Fine Productions, highlights both the technology and the way it altered the deaf fans' experience of the game. 

“What a game, what a day, what a shirt," said Wilson. "I felt part of the singing, part of the stadium. The vibrations just continued through the full game. We felt involved in all the goals and all the singing, so I just want to say thank you.”

“That’s the best top ever," added Gregson. "We felt the music, the singing, everything was included all in the top; it was brilliant. At 4-0, vibrations were amazing. I’m so happy, I would like to wear it every game.”

The first stage of the campaign today reaches its culmination today with the launch of a powerful film which has followed David and Ryan’s stories and the takeover of the Premier League match. Produced in collaboration with PRISM S + E and Mighty Fine Productions, and directed by Dominic O'Riordan, the film charts the development of the technology and inspirational scenes that took place at Newcastle United’s home ground of St. James’ Park.

In addition to the haptic sound shirts, the film also celebrates Sela’s donation of its front-of-shirt sponsorship for the launch match to RNID, the national charity supporting the 12 million people in the UK who are deaf, have hearing loss or tinnitus. This was a historic occasion, marking the first time a hearing loss charity has been promoted on a Premier League front-of-shirt, as well as the launch of the cutting-edge shirts.

“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," said Teri Devine, Director for Inclusion at RNID. "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.”

To ensure the legacy of the occasion, Sela has committed to providing this technology at all future Newcastle United home games. The company hopes its actions will inspire football clubs across the Premier League, Europe, and beyond to build on efforts to improve accessibility and will be taking the technology on tour over the coming months to showcase the innovation in markets across the globe.