Medium and message: the RNIB

The RNIB is providing volunteer commentators at football matches to keep blind people in on the action.

Sight loss charity the RNIB has recruited a team of volunteer sports commentators to describe the action at football matches to blind people.

The charity hopes the project will show that the kind of sports commentary normally available is not useful for blind people, because it refers to the action rather than describing it.

"Current commentary is either non-existent, poor quality or biased in favour of the home club, but blind and partially sighted fans rely on the commentary to enjoy a football game," says Elinor Ellison, development officer for the charity.

Volunteer commentators for the Soccer Sight project are trained by the BBC and the RNIB, and work at 35 football clubs across the UK. The service is free - those who want to hear a commentary can ask for radio headsets from a steward and tune in from anywhere in the ground.

The RNIB says Soccer Sight is a good way to combat the social isolation that blindness can cause. It wants to introduce the project to other sports: Lord's cricket ground has run a pilot, and the charity is talking to rugby league authorities.

"More needs to be done to let blind football fans feel the same buzz as everyone else - to be part of a vibrant live atmosphere without being hampered by delays in understanding what is happening on the pitch," says Stephen Baker, who volunteers as a commentator.

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