Carlos Junior isn’t your traditional soccer fan. The 31-year-old Brazilian man is both blind and deaf, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t enjoy the 2018 World Cup as much as you or I.
But, how does someone who can’t see or hear follow a soccer match? Enter a model soccer field and interpreters who uses touch communication to describe what’s happening on the actual pitch.
“The system they have developed is this: Junior places his hands on the interpreter’s. One hand represents the ball, the other the player who has possession. The interpreter moves his hands around the model field to indicate the action,” according to the Associated Press. “Meanwhile, another interpreter draws on Junior’s back, communicating which team and even which player (by tracing the player’s number) has the ball. Through his haptic, or touch, communication, the interpreter can also note fouls, yellow or red cards, blocks and saves.”
Here’s Junior following Brazil, his favorite team, as they beat Costa Rica 2-0 in the second round of the World Cup.
The touching video has gone viral, which has thrilled Junior.
“The moment you do this, you show that a deaf and blind person is the same as any other person,” Junior communicated using tactile sign language.
According to the AP, he has Usher syndrome, a rare genetic condition that causes hearing and vision loss, and only affects about 10 out of every 100,000 people. He was born deaf but started to lose his sight at 14. By the time he was 23, he was completely blind.
His father initially started translating soccer games for him using vague touch communication, but then Helio Fonseca de Araujo, a sign language interpreter, came up with the idea to use the model field, so more information could be conveyed to Junior.
When he doesn’t have interpreters available to him, he tracks games using text summaries online that can be converted into Braille.
And, when not keeping up with soccer? He works as a massage therapist, showing us all that when we adapt and use what we’re given, we can thrive in the world no matter our circumstances.