Action Audio lands at Queen’s Club Championships
AKQA has partnered with the BBC and LTA to bring Action Audio to blind and partially sighted tennis fans in Britain. Every match broadcast on the finals weekend of the cinch Championships at Queen’s Club on 18-19 June will feature a live stream of Action Audio.
The world-first technology emphasises ball speed and trajectory, proximity to line and shot type, forehand or backhand, allowing sight loss audiences to follow critical moments in real-time. The sound design is shaped by principles, including using existing sound languages familiar to blind and partially sighted audiences.
This is the first time this technology has been used in any sport in Britain and builds on Audio Action’s success earlier this year in the Australian Open. To align with its ambition to create a culture of everyday inclusion within tennis in Britain following the publication of its Inclusion Strategy last year, the LTA was keen to partner with AKQA and the BBC.
As part of the LTA’s commitment to ensure tennis is accessible to everyone, the national governing body is partnering with the RNIB and British Blind Sport to widen participation through See Sport Differently.
David Clarke, RNIB Chief Operating Officer, said: “Sports broadcasts are still very much reliant on visuals, with well-established challenges around adding traditional audio description on live broadcasts and integrating details into the main commentary. Action Audio augments live sports with sound, which helps with orientation and being able to identify where the ball is on the court. We look forward to hearing what tennis fans have to say about their viewing experience and being able to follow sport in real-time.”
Alex Pitts, National Partnerships Manager at British Blind Sport, said: “British Blind Sport are thrilled to see such exciting progress in making spectator sport more accessible for blind and partially sighted people. There has been a lot of focused work behind the scenes to bring about Action Audio coverage at the Queen’s Championship, and it creates a standard of what accessible coverage should look like for major sporting events in the future.”
Chris Pollard, LTA Director of Major Events and Digital, said: “We are very proud to be the first people to bring this technology to a sporting event in Britain. We believe that tennis should be for everyone, and all communities should be able to share in the joy and excitement of watching a great match. We’re delighted that this technology will mean blind and partially sighted fans can experience the action like never before at the cinch Championships. If this year is a success, we will look to roll out the technology to more days next year.”
Tim Devine, Executive Innovation Director, AKQA, said: “This is a huge step toward Action Audio becoming a standard for more inclusive sports broadcasts.”
The cinch Championships runs from 13-19 June. Details of tennis matches available with Action Audio from The Queen’s Club’s centre court will be available via the LTA website.