Tennis Australia

Action Audio

A new way for audiences with visual impairments to follow sport in real-time.

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Insight

Almost 285 million people worldwide are restricted from enjoying live sport.

For people living with blindness or low vision, the experience of broadcast sport is severely compromised. On television, sports coverage relies heavily on visuals, while radio commentary is often too slow to give fans a true sense of the live action.

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Idea

Turn what needs to be seen into sound.

Action Audio is a world-first system for augmenting live sports with sound, designed to give people who are visually impaired the ability to follow games in real-time.

Developed in partnership with Tennis Australia and Monash University, Action Audio uses data from a ball monitoring computer vision system to emphasise key moments of play with a 3D sound design system that has been developed with the blind and low vision community.

For many visually impaired sports fans, Action Audio will provide the first opportunity to follow the speed and actions of a live game.

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Everyone has the right to have as much access as possible. I love tennis, but being blind, all I can hear is the ball going up and down and then I have to wait for the results. I’m really looking forward to this next step forward in accessibility.

Maurice Gleeson, CEO at Blind Sports Victoria
Action Audio-Kala interview

Impact

Making Tennis accessible to a new audience of millions.

Action Audio launched during the finals of the 2021 Australian Open tennis tournament. Action Audio is now available across every match at the Rod Laver Arena via Australian Open live radio and through Google Assistant for the 2022 tournament.

To further improve ease of accessibility, listeners can now listen to Action Audio together with the live radio commentary of each game on centre court throughout the tournament through Google Assistant. Using voice commands, visually impaired tennis fans can ask Google to stream the Action Audio live feed, and access information about how Action Audio works to learn more about the experience.

Action Audio sets a new standard in accessibility in sport, and the ubiquity of the ball monitoring computer vision systems at over 80 tennis tournaments worldwide, and other codes such as cricket and football, creates a huge opportunity to open access for millions of visually impaired sports fans.

The 2022 Australian Open runs from 17-30th January. Details of tennis matches are available with Action Audio from the Rod Laver Arena via Ausopen.com, listen to the matches live via AO radio and choose to either listen to the audio commentary alone, or with Action Audio.

Action Audio is essentially a new language being created to transcend sport. It enables us to augment the live radio broadcast and changes the way blind and low vision sports fans can participate in live sport entertainment.

Machar Reid, Head of Innovation at Tennis Australia

Winner

World Changing Idea Award

Winner

Diversity and Inclusion

Winner

Digital Design Interface