The QF initiative enables the visually impaired to enjoy Qatar 2022

A Qatar Foundation (QF) institute has developed a service to enable blind and partially sighted fans to enjoy football tournaments – including the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

The Translation and Training Center at the Translation and Interpreting Institute (TII) of Hamad Bin Khalifa University has developed audio descriptive commentary services in Arabic, offering inclusivity to all sections of fans.
The services, offered in partnership with the Center for Access to Football in Europe, were launched for 10 matches during the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021 and will be extended to all matches of the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
“I used to have to stream the game from the TV or radio and listen to a time-shifted video of the game. Now I have the opportunity to enjoy the real-time experience, immerse myself in the exciting atmosphere of the stadium and listen to the game independently, just like everyone else,” said Ikrami Ahmed Fouad, describing his experience of joining fans in games despite his visual impairment.
The provision of these services was the result of an intensive training program aimed at qualifying commentators and giving them the necessary skills, according to an article on the QF website.
Rama al-Zoubi, Program Coordinator of the Football Audio-Descriptive Commentary Program at TII, explained that the audio-descriptive commentary services during last year’s tournament were a test run with the service, which was successfully implemented at Al Bayt Stadium and Education City Stadium during 10 games.
“After every game, we conducted a survey to improve and develop the service and provide the best fan experience,” al-Zoubi said. “We have had positive feedback after successfully implementing this service over the past year and we will use the results of this experience to amplify its impact at the upcoming World Cup.”
Regarding the technologies used to provide this service, al-Zoubi explained that fans can use it by downloading an app on their personal device, which allows them to access the audio descriptive commentary anywhere, whether inside or out outside the stadium.
“Anyone with a passion for football is welcome to take part in this experience and registration for the program is open until October,” she explained.
Zakaria Elhagar, who completed the football commentator training program, was among the commentators who took part in the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021. He chose this program because he was a football referee in Morocco and said: “I wanted to take this to another level and to be closer to football and the people on the field”.
Elhagar continued: “The training was very beneficial as it was divided into a theoretical part and a practical part. I learned both practical skills and understood some core concepts that we needed to boost our participation as commentators. Details matter. One of the most important things I learned is that football has a lot of details and commenting for people has a lot of focus on conveying the details in an audio way.”
The provision of audio descriptive commentary services is not new. As explained by Nada al-Mahmeed, Director of the Translation and Training Center, other countries around the world have offered this service in different languages ​​during numerous tournaments by football-loving volunteers.
However, what makes the Qatar experience special, according to al-Mahmeed, is that the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021 was the first tournament to offer the service in Arabic and the fact that Qatar is the first Arab country to offer it.
“We didn’t want to distinguish blind and partially sighted fans from other spectators and make sure that they can enjoy the atmosphere of the tournament in the stands together with their families and friends,” al-Mahmeed said, adding that the program aims to build local talent and support the inclusive legacy of FIFA World Cup Qatar.

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