The AFL has belatedly installed closed captions on team songs so deaf and hard of hearing barrackers can join in match day singalongs.
- The AFL will include closed captions on the scoreboard during the club song this season
- The league says it has “grand plans” for finals
- Some advocates say more can still be done for deaf fans
All grounds will display words on the big screens.
The improvement has come after years of advocacy.
“Yeah, it should’ve [happened] maybe 10 years ago,” St Kilda supporter Jaqui Mellington said.
Ms Mellington will get her chance next week when the Saints play Collingwood in round one.
“Sometimes I feel like people sing the song and I don’t feel a part of it,” she said.
“I feel like I’m missing out.
“With the captions I can follow along and sign and hear what people are singing and I can sign alongside them.
Collingwood barracker Calvin Black said it was “really hard” missing out on the team song when everyone else was celebrating.
He’s rapt to have a chance to sing Good Old Collingwood Forever with everyone else this year.
“Because I can be more involved with my family, and I can understand more [about] what’s happening in the game,” he said.
AFL Disability Inclusion Manager Tim Nield said this was a step towards providing better coverage of the game for supporters.
“Coming to a game of AFL and being able to engage in the team’s club song, whether it’s been at the start of the game or at the end of the game, it’s sort of been an opportunity starved of the deaf and hard of hearing community,” Mr Nield said.
There will be no change to television coverage.
“We’ve got some grand plans when finals come along,” Mr Nield said.
It is believed the AFL is considering using AUSLAN interpreters on scoreboards later this year.
Brisbane diehard Max Eyking said he was pleased with close captions at stadiums, but wanted more.
“I think it’s really important,” he said.
“Growing up without any hearing means captions help me understand what people are saying.
“I would like to see captions all the time and improved access. Technology can make this happen.
“I’ve been frustrated because I know AFL footy is really public face — a famous sport.
“I want to know what the players are talking about, the coaches are talking about.
Source: AFL NEWS ABC