More Accessible Sports Games with Visual Interpretation

A photo of Everette Bacon in the stands at a Utah Jazz Game, with the Aira logo at bottom left and text overlaid at left that says "Visual Interpretation for More Accessible Sporting Events"

Aira is used by Explorers in a vast range of ways as they go about their day-to-day activities. One exciting new way Explorers can use the app is at professional sporting events. We have just announced our first stadium Access Partner, Hadlock Field, which means anyone attending Sea Dogs games or at an event in that facility can use Aira for free. We’re looking forward to expanding this to many more stadium Access Partners to make sporting events more enjoyable and accessible for attendees who are blind or low vision.

This kind of visual interpretation at stadiums is something that is of great interest to Everette Bacon. Along with being Aira’s VP of Blindness Initiatives, Everette Bacon is a big sports fan. Some of his favorite teams to check out are the Dallas Cowboys, Utah Jazz, and the LA Angels. Everette has provided great insight on some accessibility challenges at sporting events, as well as how visual interpretation can help. Read below for Everette’s take on five ways visual interpretation with Aira can improve and enhance the experience of attending a sports game, from arrival to meeting up with friends to catching transit home. 

1. Navigating the stadium independently
Visual interpretation can be tremendously useful for getting around a sporting venue with more independence. This includes the simple act of locating my section and seat at the stadium, the restroom, and the many concession options for food and beverages. It also extends to locating the souvenir shops and getting descriptions of the numerous items in the team store. From colors to logos, there are so many options for things like hats, jerseys, and T-shirts. 

2. Purchasing items through the website and mobile application
Navigating a team website can be challenging because there is so much information available to fans. It can be difficult locating exactly what to look for. Accessibility using a screen reader has improved, but there are different levels of skills and experience using these accessible tools, and sometimes it is just easier to have visual interpretation of the website. Mobile applications at stadiums now often are utilized to purchase tickets, concessions, and so much more. These mobile applications are not always built with accessibility in mind. Many times, there are unlabelled buttons and images, and links that make it very difficult to use without assistance. Visual interpretation makes it much easier to use this technology to get tickets and get on to the game. 

3. Navigating transit pre and post game
Traveling independently to and from the transit pick up/drop off area or locating the rideshare areas around the stadium can be very challenging. Sometimes signage indicating these locations is not ideally located. Additionally, finding guide dog relief areas around the stadium can be tricky and is another area where I think visual interpreting can be very helpful.

4. Locating friends or family members
If I’m meeting up with friends or family at the game, it can be hard to locate them in a crowded stadium. One solution to this using Aira is that I can save a photo with my visual interpreter, and then use that as a tool for locating my friends and family members I am attending the event with.

5. Staying informed during the game
One way I often get the game play-by-play is to listen to the live radio broadcast. But there is more happening at a sports event than just the game! During intervals like inning changes or timeouts, there is so much activity happening in the stadium and on the field that the team uses to keep fans interested, like dancing mascots, contests, giveaways, or the fan camera being pointed to highlight the fans in the stadium. A game attendee who is blind could use Aira to keep informed of all the many goings on at a stadium, on top of the details of the sports game.