New Gadget Provides Inclusive Experience for Rugby Fans with Disabilities
Assistive Technology, Europe, Universal Design, April 10 2020
UNITED KINGDOM: Blind sports fans have received a boost from a magnetic gadget to help them enjoy a match. The “touchy-feely” board helps visually-impaired supporters keep up with the action and never miss a goal, try, putt or basketball hoop. The kit is the first of its type in the UK and is being used at Scottish rugby matches but it will soon be available to sports clubs across the country.
Volunteers move a small magnetic ball around the pitch-shaped board to indicate players’ positions and the movement of the ball. The lines of the pitch and goalposts are raised and different areas of the playing surface have different textures to feel. When combined with a special audio descriptive commentary, it gives visually impaired fans an all-inclusive experience.
Ruaridh has worked alongside the Scottish Rugby Union and the Royal Blind School in Edinburgh to develop the equipment. He said the next generation board will hopefully be launched in Hong Kong later this year. It merges two boards into one, using magnetic traction, varied texture and LEDs. Ruaridh has now approached some of the top teams in England and is hoping clubs from the Scottish Premiership will get on board too. He said: “I can’t imagine a life without sport so why should people living with an impairment or disability have to?”