Guinness and ITV make sporting history by trialling live descriptive audio commentary for the Guinness Six Nations - Ruck

Guinness and ITV make sporting history by trialling live descriptive audio commentary for the Guinness Six Nations

The Guinness Six Nations 2024 Championship will be the most inclusive yet, thanks to its partnerships with ITV and union partners with improvements to the at-home and in-stadium viewing experience for those with physical and less apparent disabilities. 

 Recent research revealed almost a quarter (24%) of the UK population have a disability and one in five (20%) are neurodiverse.

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Additionally, 71% of the blind and partially sighted community engage with sport through TV and radio, but aren’t able to fully experience the game at home with standard commentary and subtitles.

That’s why Guinness has partnered with ITV to trial live audio descriptive commentary for England vs. Wales on February 10th and England vs. Ireland on March 9th for Guinness Men’s Six Nations 2024. Guinness has enlisted commentators, Danielle Waterman (Guinness ambassador, ex-Red Rose and rugby commentator), Nick Heath (rugby commentator) and Dave Rogers (rugby commentator and trained audio describer) to join the coveted line-up and make sure blind and partially-sighted fans can follow every aspect of the game – from the players, to the numbers on their shirts and the intricate details of every pass and tackle.

The epitome of broadcast technology, this is the first time this solution has been used for a UK broadcast sporting event, and can be accessed simply by turning on the audio description function on your TV.  

In addition to improving broadcast accessibility, stemming out of an initiative with 

Creative Equals (global diversity, equality and inclusivity organisation) Guinness have worked with one of the creative equals competition winners and consultant, Britt Sarony, specialised disability led creative agency “With Not For” and Verve the Live Agency (sponsorship and experiential agency), in providing additional training and toolkits for stadium staff. As part of this training package, staff have been provided with the latest resources to ensure they are equipped with the skills and tools they need to support disabled and Neurodivergent fans. 

Guinness will also be upweighting sensory rooms and fan resources across Twickenham, Scottish Gas Murrayfield and Principality  – such as fidget spinners, ear plugs and stress balls – to help those with invisible disabilities such as Autism, ADHD and Tourettes feel less overwhelmed on game day.

Moreover, Guinness has worked closely with England Rugby to introduce “Guinness Accessibility Coordinators” – additional staff who can support the Twickenham accessibility team onsite.

These Accessibility Coordinators bring their lived experiences with disability to enhance the accessibility at the stadium, better support fans and ultimately continue to make Rugby a place for everyone. “We are so proud to be working across this project which is the first of its kind. Our Access Coordinators are all Disabled people that are utilising their lived experience to provide a fully inclusive match day to all.

It is hugely important that Guinness, ITV and their partners have done the work behind the scenes, within their teams and with the community to deliver this project. Truly demonstrating a With Not For (with the community, not for the community) approach.” 

Kelly Gordon, CEO and Co-founder Not For​Anna MacDonald, Marketing Director for Guinness, said: “Earlier this year, Guinness announced its Title Partnership of the Guinness Women’s and Men’s Six Nations, but our commitment to create a better society through diversity and inclusion has only just begun. At Guinness we believe that creating a collective community will accelerate change so we are working with our partners, and fans, as part of our wider Never Settle initiative to ensure that rugby is a sport where everyone belongs. Our partnership with ITV and Creative Equals is a continuation of this dedication to ensure everyone can enjoy the game, their way”

Emma Murphy, community director, Creative Equals, said: “We’re thrilled that our first Disabled Creatives programme – sponsored by Diageo and with creative collaboration from Guinness – was the catalyst for this game-changing, UK-first in live sport. People with disabilities have long been excluded from experiencing sporting events, but with collaborative action that embraces disability, we can remove the barriers that stand in the way. Let’s be clear – there is no inclusivity without disability inclusivity.”

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