(And Hard of Hearing)
USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center offers excellent accessibility for deaf and hard-of-hearing tennis fans, and it continues to improve those efforts. The center is hosting the US Open and is celebrating 50 years of equal prize money (contestants get paid the same amount of prize money). The US Open is a prominent and must-see tennis event for tennis fans worldwide.
50 Years of Equal Prize Money, Photo by Gary Noll
Gary Noll advocates for live closed captioning and ASL (American Sign Language) on video boards in NJ and metropolitan NY sports stadiums and arenas. He also provides suggestions and feedback annually to the USTA (United States Tennis Association) for improvements for deaf and hard-of-hearing tennis fans. He has attended the US Open Tennis event multiple times throughout the years.
Billie Jean King National Tennis Center
Billie Jean King National Tennis Center provides captioning in Arthur Ashe Stadium, Louis Armstrong Stadium, Grandstand Stadium, and various other locations throughout the Center.
Arthur Ashe Stadium provides captioning on video boards located in the Northeast and Southwest corners of the Stadium. Arthur Ashe Stadium usually hosts the men’s and women’s tennis championship matches and fields the top women’s and men’s tennis players on the court.
The newly renovated Louis Armstrong Stadium provides captioning on video boards located In the Northwest and Southeast corners of the Stadium.
Louis Armstrong Stadium, Photo by Gary Noll
Captioning in the Grandstand Stadium is available on www.mobilecap.net (When prompted, enter your name and Event ID 2671, and then click “Join.” The program will start running automatically. Remember to log out after the event). If guests do not have their mobile device/tablet, mobile devices may be obtained at the Guest Services booth in the Grandstand Stadium, subject to availability. Collateral, such as a driver's license or credit card, is required to borrow a mobile device and will be exchanged at the end of the event. Source: US Open Tennis official site
Grandstand Stadium, Photo by Gary Noll
Currently, Grandstand Stadium does not provide captioning on its scoreboard or ribbon boards because it does not have those types of boards, only a video scoreboard. The stadium operations are looking to have a mobile captioning QR code message on the video scoreboard this 2023 season. This will allow visitors to scan the code and read live captioning of the game progression and public address announcements.
Example of QR code at UBS Arena, Photo by Gary Noll
US Open tennis is considering having ASL signers for the national anthem and even ASL performance (signing the match progress and other public address announcements) for the 2024 tournament at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Gary has already had conversations requesting ASL provisions via a Picture in Picture on video scoreboard for the whole time. We’ll have to see if that happens.
Gary also recommended the USTA have deaf volunteers or even employees so the venue can have ASL interpreters and make ASL more visual. Live captioning is nice, but having double accessibility allows deaf and hard-of-hearing fans to feel more included in the match experience.
Gary campaigned for live captioning outside of the Arthur Ashe Stadium, where there is currently lots of information and details, but it’s missing for deaf and hard-of-hearing fans this 2023 season. This includes the ESPN and Tennis Network booths and up-to-date match details (closed captioning on video scoreboards) from all courts in the complex. This area is a popular spot for fans to follow other matches while they eat, drink, visit exhibits, and shop without going inside the stadium.
Plaza outside Arthur Ashe Stadium, Photos by Gary Noll
Fans need this most during championship games and post-tennis match celebrations from ESPN and Tennis TV Network. Gary encourages the US Open, ESPN, and Tennis TV Network to use ASL for these championship matches and post-celebration interviews.
Even with all these recommendations, the US Open tennis has been so great with accessibility and is a champion at giving fans the best experience.
Billie Jean King National Tennis Center Map, Photo by Gary Noll