A grandstand for the blind during swimming competition in Eindhoven

swimming pool
Photo credit: Studio040

A grandstand for the blind will be used for the first time at an international competition in the Pieter van de Hoogeband Swimming Stadium. This has been happening in football for some time, but in swimming this is new in the Netherlands.

These are the qualifying competitions for the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. Liesette Bruinsma, Paralympic swimmer, thinks it is time for the blind grandstand to make its debut in swimming. The EQM qualifying tournament seems suitable for this. “The idea came from me and I tried to approach organisations and that was successful. Now we hope that we can reach the target group and allow people with visual impairments to enjoy sport,” says the five-time Paralympic champion.

Special grandstand

The special grandstand in the swimming stadium consists of VIP places. Normally that means Very Important Person, but during the competition it stands for Visually Impaired Person. With headphones, blind and partially sighted people can still experience the entire match. “A commentator reports on the match via headphones. There are special interpreters for the blind for that. For example, they say: ‘Someone is swimming to the right and then all the way to the left’. We think it is much more important that you hear someone who understands the sport and knows the different strokes, but can also bring enthusiasm,” Bruinsma explains.


The ultimate goal is to make the sport accessible to everyone. “This is another step closer to an accessible society. Everyone should be able to enjoy sports, even if you cannot see,” says Bruinsma. “Most children become interested in sports by watching, but that is not possible for everyone. I hope that other sports will also pick up on this.”

The blind stand will be used during the qualifying matches on April 13. There have been several registrations, interested parties can register here.


Source: Studio040

For Eindhoven News: Lila Mehrez

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