Arsenal have added pitchside British Sign Language interpreters to the matchday experience at the Emirates Stadium.
Deaf fans of the club now have a way to fully understand what is going on inside the stadium. The inclusion is a first for Premier League clubs.
Jon Dyster, the north London club’s disability access manager, recently discussed the move with The Guardian. “We have a British Sign Language interpreter pitchside for all of our content, pre-match and halftime,” Dyster explained. “So any interviews that are taking place, we have someone explaining exactly what’s happening to deaf fans within the stadium and on the big screens.”
Arsenal supporters love the addition inside the stadium
Incorporating a useful tool that helps include more fans in the atmosphere of matchdays is a welcomed addition.
Longtime Arsenal supporter Christopher Clelland explained how the decision makes him feel more like part of the team. “I’m fully deaf, my first language is British Sign Language,” claimed Clelland. “I’ve been coming to Arsenal Stadium since it opened and I’ve enjoyed it. It’s my number one, I love Arsenal.”
“But a few deaf fans have been feeling left out and I was always missing information … but now I have full access. I can see it on the screen, or on the pitch. So it makes me feel included, and it’s so positive and so happy. I feel like part of the team and part of the family.”
Another fan, Max Parsons, shared his joy when he first noticed the sign language interpreter. “I was like: ‘Is that real?’” stated Parsons. “I was shocked, I was speechless. It really had a massive impact on me, I just couldn’t believe it. I thought: ‘Finally we’re included.’
The interpreter is translating English into BSL using facial expressions and heuristics, and it makes us feel more connected to the game because we know what’s going on. It makes us very happy.”
Midfielder shows sign language skills for team video
Arsenal have even released a video of Jorginho performing sign language to help promote the move.
The midfielder also previously showed off his sign language skills during his time with Chelsea as well. It remains to be seen how many other Premier League clubs will follow suit, but inclusion should always be a priority for stadium events.
Photo credit: IMAGO / Focus Images
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