AT&T is lending an ear to football players who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Over the weekend, the telecommunications conglomerate partnered with Gallaudet University for the launch of a national campaign highlighting 5G helmets designed specifically for deaf and hard of hearing football players.

The minute-long ad debuted during an airing of ESPN’s College Gameday on Saturday morning and features a cover version of the Simon & Garfunkel classic, “The Sounds of Silence,” sung by Amira Daugherty, who is hard of hearing.

No words are spoken in the commercial, but Gallaudet Bison players are shown being fitted with 5G-connected helmets that use a small display board in the visor to detail which plays are being called by the coaches in lieu of audio calls from the sidelines.

The final slide shows players celebrating a touchdown while text appears on the screen that says, “Leveling the playing field for deaf and hard of hearing athletes.”

The ad is slated to run throughout the remainder of the 2023 college football season.

The helmet made its on-the-field debut during a game between Gallaudet and Hilbert College earlier this month, which the Bisons won 34-20. Gallaudet’s head coach Chuck Goldstein said the helmet is “revolutionizing communication” for deaf and hard of hearing teams.

This isn’t the first time Gallaudet has made a significant change in the way football players communicate with each other on the field.

In 1894, Gallaudet competed against another deaf school that used American Sign Language. Seeking to avoid giving away the game plan to the opposing squad, quarterback Paul Hubbard gathered his teammates in a tight circle and gave out the play call. What later became known as the huddle is now a commonly utilized aspect of football as well as many other athletic competitions.

The introduction of the 5G helmet has resulted in widespread mainstream media coverage for Gallaudet and continues to shine a spotlight on the challenges faced by those with hearing loss, a patient population that exceeds 25 million Americans.

Kellyn Kenny, chief marketing and growth officer at AT&T, added her thoughts on the potential impact of this innovation as well as the reach of the accompanying ad campaign. 

“Every detail of ‘Sound of Silence’ gives you a glimpse into the lives of these coaches and players, and how connectivity has forever changed the game,” she said in a statement.