BT Sport and EE launch New Signing to search for British Sign Language commentators or presenters

New Signing will provide two BSL commentators or presenters with a first-of-its-kind opportunity to train up with BT Sport.

Published: 27 October 2022 - 1.17pm

BT Sport and EE are teaming up to search for a duo to provide British Sign Language (BSL) commentary around a range of BT Sport programming in 2023, including the UEFA Champions League Final.

Launching today, New Signing will provide two BSL commentators or presenters with a first-of-its-kind opportunity to train up with BT Sport so that they can sign at some of the biggest BT Sport football games next season, including the FA Disability Cup 2023.

New Signing is open to anyone to apply who would like the opportunity to enhance BT Sport’s football coverage through BSL – the two people selected will have the opportunity to add their own BSL commentary to some key footballing moments on BT Sport, whilst documenting their journey across BT Sport and online next year.

Anyone interested in entering and to find out more can visit btsport.com/newsigning.

New Signing is the latest EE initiative, as part of its long-term partnerships with each of the four Home Nations Football Associations, to support the growth of disability football on and off the pitch, ensuring the game is as inclusive as possible for fans and spectators with disabilities. 

This includes Para Football Adventures - a documentary series fronted by Alex Brooker and Chelcee Grimes shining a floodlight on para and disability football and meeting some of the inspirational people that make up the game. Meanwhile EE and The FA recently opened two multi-purpose sensory rooms at Wembley Stadium to better accommodate neuro-divergent guests and their families.

“We are working hard to make our programming as accessible as possible, and we have a range of exciting initiatives planned for the season ahead”
- Jamie Hindhaugh

For BT Sport, New Signing continues its work to make its broadcasts as accessible as possible for all of its viewers. Over the past two years, BT Sport has broadcast The FA Disability Cup exclusively live with enhanced Audio Description, BSL, and, sub-titles.

This season, BT Sport is also increasing the amount of subtitled sports content that it provides viewers by more than 100 hours per month, and, later this season will launch a new series with BSL that focuses on the issues facing deaf and hard of hearing sports fans.

Pete Jeavons, marketing communications director, BT & EE said: “As lead partner of The FA, EE is committed to enhance access to football for everyone. Our New Signing partnership with BT Sport will not only make key BT Sport programming more accessible, but provide a unique opportunity for two BSL experts to develop their careers in sport broadcast.”

Jamie Hindhaugh, head of BT Sport said: “BT Sport is committed to providing the best possible experience for anyone who loves watching football on TV. We are working hard to make our programming as accessible as possible and we have a range of exciting initiatives planned for the season ahead. It’s fantastic to be able to work with EE to create more BSL content for our viewers.”

England international deaf footballer Will Palmer said: “It’s massive that EE and BT Sport are providing this opportunity for BSL signers to feature so prominently in their football coverage. This will be a big step for the deaf football community and I am really excited to see the New Signing pundits in position over the coming months.

“During the making of the New Signing advert it was a great experience to meet the England senior players and to teach them some BSL words and terms. We spoke about the importance of communication and inclusion within football, and I am proud that we have been able to launch the New Signing initiative together.”

“EE and BT Sport have set a brilliant example of what it means to successfully collaborate effectively with the Deaf community”
- Rebecca Mansell

Rebecca Mansell, chief executive of the British Deaf Association said: “EE and BT Sport have set a brilliant example of what it means to successfully collaborate effectively with the Deaf community to produce an outstanding and inclusive campaign. Ever since the British Deaf Association was established in 1890, it has been our mission to ensure a world in which the language, culture, community, diversity and heritage of Deaf people in the UK is respected and fully protected.

“Earlier this year, our decades of campaigning paid off when Parliament passed the BSL Act 2022, giving legal recognition to British Sign Language as a language of Great Britain for the first time. We look forward to collaborating further with EE and BT Sport to protect, preserve and promote British Sign Language for generations to come."

Amanda Casson Webb, Joint Chief Executive, Royal Association for Deaf (RAD) people, said: “RAD’s vision is a future of opportunity, achievement and equality for deaf people. We are passionate about collaborating with organisations that share our aspiration - and are proud to have partnered BT Sport on ‘New Signing’, a project that we welcome as a real step-change for the Deaf Community. We look forward to seeing more deaf talent and BSL commentary on mainstream TV.”

Teri Devine, Associate Director for Inclusion at RNID, said: “We applaud BT Sport and EE for their ‘New Signing’ initiative. British Sign Language (BSL) is the first language of 87,000 Deaf people in the UK and they have a right to enjoy football games as much as anyone. Representation matters, and we are thrilled that this opportunity will lead to thousands of Deaf football fans being able to watch and engage with the ‘beautiful game’.  For support or information, please visit RNID.org.uk.”