Written by: Andrew Fletcher – partially sighted member and trustee of Losing My Sight UK.
I’m a visually impaired photographer, I am blind in my right eye and can see about 6 feet with my left eye. My eye condition has been the same since birth. I enjoy taking photographs at Fratton Park and recently had the opportunity to try out their audio description facility – in this article, I would like to share my experience of using this feature at a few of the recent home fixtures.
In the past games that I’ve been fortunate to take photos of, admittedly, I could barely see the players on the pitch, and in some cases, the only way I knew the match had started is by the reaction and noise of the spectators. I would also only be able to tell if a goal had been scored and which team had scored the goal by the reaction of the supporters, as hearing the tannoy is often a difficult task. I would therefore avoid talking about the match after the game had finished so I did not appear foolish, as generally, I would not know the final score and would not be aware of most things that happened during the 90 minutes.
This all changed when I had the opportunity to use the club’s audio description facility. In essence, this is a small, wireless device you can fit in your pocket, attached to headphones which allow you to listen to the announcer describe what is happening on the field.
It started with the announcer talking about the mascot in the middle of the pitch before the game, which I never knew was even a regular occurrence at home fixtures. He then explained who had kicked off the game, where the action was taking place on the pitch and when goals had been scored and by whom.
In summary, I would say this is the most amazing and inclusive experience I have had at a football match. I knew what was happening even when I couldn’t see what was happening, and was able to confidently discuss with others what happened during the match.
This positive experience has inspired me to find out more about the rules of the game and the players’ positions on the pitch, so that next time I use the audio description service I can relate much more to the action and have a far more immersive experience.
I would like to thank Portsmouth Football Club for giving me the opportunity to try out their free audio description service, I look forward to using this again, and I would like to thank LMS UK for giving me the opportunity to photograph Pompey playing football at Fratton Park.