The Guinness Six Nations 2024 Championship will be the most inclusive yet, thanks to its partnerships with ITV and union partners with improvements to the at-home and in-stadium viewing experience for those with physical and less apparent disabilities.
Recent research revealed almost a quarter (24%) of the UK population have a disability and one in five (20%) are neurodiverse. Additionally, 71% of the blind and visually impaired community engage with sport through TV and radio, but aren’t able to fully experience the game at home with standard commentary and subtitles. That’s why Guinness has partnered with ITV to trial live audio descriptive commentary for England vs. Wales on February 10th and England vs. Ireland on March 9th for Guinness Men’s Six Nations 2024.
Earlier this year, Guinness announced its Title Partnership of the Guinness Women's and Men’s Six Nations, but our commitment to create a better society through diversity and inclusion has only just begun. At Guinness we believe that creating a collective community will accelerate change so we are working with our partners, and fans, as part of our wider Never Settle initiative to ensure that rugby is a sport where everyone belongs. Our partnership with ITV and Creative Equals is a continuation of this dedication to ensure everyone can enjoy the game, their way”Anna MacDonald, Marketing Director for Guinness
Guinness has enlisted commentators, Danielle Waterman (Guinness ambassador, ex-Red Rose and rugby commentator), Nick Heath (rugby commentator) and Dave Rogers (rugby commentator and trained audio describer) to join the coveted line-up and make sure blind and partially-sighted fans can follow every aspect of the game - from the players, to the numbers on their shirts and the intricate details of every pass and tackle. The epitome of broadcast technology, this is the first time this solution has been used for a UK broadcast sporting event, and can be accessed simply by turning on the audio description function on your TV.
In addition to improving broadcast accessibility, stemming out of an initiative with Creative Equals (global diversity, equality and inclusivity organisation) Guinness have worked with one of the Creative Equals competition winners and creative consultant, Britt Sarony, specialised disability led creative agency “With Not For” and Verve the Live Agency (sponsorship and experiential agency), in providing additional training and toolkits for stadium staff. As part of this training package, staff have been provided with the latest resources to ensure they are equipped with the skills and tools they need to support disabled and Neurodivergent fans.
Guinness will also be upweighting sensory rooms and fan resources across Twickenham, Scottish Gas Murrayfield and Principality - such as fidget spinners, ear plugs and stress balls - to help those with invisible disabilities such as Autism, ADHD and Tourettes feel less overwhelmed on game day.
The Guinness Six Nations is a huge sporting and broadcast event and at ITV we want to make sure our coverage is as accessible as possible to as big an audience as possible. Through partnering with Guinness on this trial to ensure alternative visually descriptive commentary, we're continuing to evolve both how we work with brand partners and our broadcast and technology offering to bring the best experience to our viewers."Mark Trinder, ITV Director of Commercial Sales and Partnerships
It is really encouraging to see ITV and Guinness taking the steps to include live descriptive commentary for this weekend’s coverage of the Six Nations. Simple steps like these make a huge difference to blind and partially sighted people – it breaks down a barrier that would otherwise prevent them from enjoying the game in the same way as their sighted peers."Sonali Rai, Media, Culture and Immersive Technologies Senior Manager at the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)