NEWCASTLE United will wear a one-off shirt for this weekend's home game against Tottenham Hotspur in a groundbreaking move supporting the Royal National Institute for Deaf People.

Kit sponsor Sela have gifted the shirts to RNID in what will be the first time a hearing loss charity has been promoted on the front of a Premier League strip.

And in what is believed to be a first in European football and has been described as a "game-changing" move, the shirts will allow deaf fans and supporters with hearing loss to experience the atmosphere at St James' Park.

The shirts use haptic technology to transform the noise of the stadium into real-time touch sensation and will be worn by fans and matchday mascots who are deaf or have hearing loss.

The technology works with microphones on the shirt capturing sound around the pitch. That's then converted into digital sound and transformed into data, which is wirelessly transmitted to the shirt through an antenna. Each shirt receives the data and prompts mini motors to vibrate, giving fans a taste of the atmosphere.

The Northern Echo:

Sela have committed to providing this technology at all future Newcastle home games, with United and the club's sponsors hoping they can lead the way with efforts to improve accessibility for fans who are deaf or have hearing loss.

Ibrahim Mohtaseb, senior vice president of Sela, said: "Ensuring every fan is able to experience the amazing atmosphere is so important to us as a sponsor of Newcastle United.

"St. James’ Park is renowned for its noise and passion. Through this initiative we hope to enable deaf fans and fans with hearing loss to feel a part of this. We would welcome the whole football family to join us by adopting the technology. By acting now, we can collectively make watching live football matches an incredible experience for everyone who loves the game.”


Peter Silverstone, chief commercial officer at Newcastle United, said: “When Sela shared the idea and technology behind the haptic shirts, we supported the concept immediately, knowing it would make such an impact to our supporters who are deaf or have hearing loss.

“Newcastle United’s partnership with Sela continues to provide spectacular experiences for our growing global fanbase. We are also proud that, together, we can shine a light on the positive work of Newcastle United Foundation as well as the city of Newcastle, itself. This inspiring campaign is highly innovative and the first-of-its-kind. “Unsilence the Crowd” fills everybody associated with this initiative with deep pride, from all Newcastle United, Newcastle United Foundation, Sela and RNID, along with all stakeholders who have helped make this possible.

“We believe that “Unsilence the Crowd” will be truly game-changing for football and expect this campaign will revolutionise the football experience for any fan who is deaf or has hearing loss, regardless of which team they support.”

Teri Devine, Director for Inclusion at RNID, said: “One in five adults in the UK are deaf or have hearing loss, but people often face barriers in everyday life – including in live sports events. It’s fantastic to see Sela and Newcastle United leading the way in championing this technology which has the potential to have a real and lasting impact on how people who are deaf and have hearing loss experience live sports.”

“We’re excited to be part of this collaboration and we hope this exposure opens up conversations amongst football fans about hearing loss and encourages other football clubs to raise their game and make sure deaf fans are fully included.”