(MENAFN- Gulf Times)
A Qatar Foundation (QF) institute has come up with a service that enables blind and partially sighted fans to enjoy football tournaments – including the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
The Translation and Training Centre at the Translation and Interpreting Institute (TII) of Hamad Bin Khalifa University has developed audio-descriptive commentary services in Arabic providing inclusivity for all sections of the fans.
The services provided in collaboration with the Centre for Access to Football in Europe were introduced during the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021 for 10 matches and will be expanded to cover all the matches during the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
“In the past, I had to stream the game from the TV or radio and listen to a time-delayed video of the match. Now, I have the opportunity to enjoy the experience in real-time, immerse myself in the exciting atmosphere of the stadium, and listen to the game independently the same way as everyone else,' noted, Ikrami Ahmed Fouad who describes his experience of joining fans in matches despite his visual impairment.
The provision of these services was the result of an intensive training programme aimed at qualifying commentators and providing them with the necessary skills, according to an article on QF website.
Rama al-Zoubi, programme coordinator of the Football Audio-Descriptive Commentary Programme at TII, explained that the audio-descriptive commentary services during last year's tournament were a trial run with the service successfully implemented at Al Bayt Stadium and Education City Stadium during 10 matches.
“After each match, we conducted a survey to be able to improve and develop the service and provide the best fan experience,” said al-Zoubi.“We received positive feedback after the successful implementation of this service last year, and we will dedicate the outputs of this experience to enhance its impact in the upcoming World Cup.”
Speaking about the technologies used to provide this service, al-Zoubi explained that fans can use it by downloading an app to their personal device, which enables them to access the audio-descriptive commentary anywhere, whether inside or outside the stadium.
“Anyone with a passion for football is welcome to be part of this experience, and registration for the programme is open until October,” she explained.
Zakaria Elhagar, who passed the football commentary training programme, was among the commentators participating in the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021. He chose to register in this programme because he was a football referee back in Morocco, saying“I wanted to take that to another level and to be closer to football and people in the field”.
Elhagar continued: 'The training was very beneficial, as it was divided into a theoretical part and a practice part, I have learned both practical skills and understood some core concepts we needed to kickstart our participation as commentators. Details matter. One of the most important things that I have learned is football has many details, and commentating for people is highly focused on delivering the details in an audio manner.”
Providing audio-descriptive commentary services is not new. As Nada al-Mahmeed, director of the Translation and Training Centre, explains, other countries around the world have provided this service in different languages during numerous tournaments, by volunteers who love football.
However, according to al-Mahmeed, what makes the experience in Qatar special is that the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021 was the first tournament to offer the service in Arabic, and the fact that Qatar is the first Arab country to provide it.
“We were keen not to set blind and partially sighted fans apart from other spectators, and to ensure they can enjoy the atmosphere of the tournament on the stands alongside their families and friends,” al-Mahmeed said, adding that the programme aims to build local talent and support the inclusive legacy of the FIFA World Cup Qatar.
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