Disneyland announces addition of Audio-Descriptive device in Outdoors area

As if on cue, Disneyland just announced the addition of audio-descriptive service for outdoor areas for those with visual disabilities. Earlier this week a class action lawsuit was certified against Disney parks for not accommodating those with visual disabilities. Disneyland and Walt Disney World has had this device for over a year now, but now it’s even more useful. I like the device it’s very rugged and quite an amazing experience, even for those who don’t have visual problems.

Disneyland Resort guests with visual disabilities can now explore Disneyland in a new way through this Disney-designed device that provides detailed audio description of outdoor areas.  An interactive audio menu allows guests to choose the type of information they would like to receive about outdoor areas—from a description of their surroundings to information about nearby attractions, restaurants and entertainment. The new outdoor service is an enhancement to the audio description that debuted over a year ago, which provides guests detailed audio description of key visual elements for more than 20 attractions at Disneyland and California Adventure.

A good PR move from Disney, but a bit obvious.

Update: The full press release is below the jump:


Beginning July 6, guests with visual disabilities will be able to explore Disneyland park in a whole new way through an enhanced Disney-designed device that provides detailed audio description of outdoor areas. This feature compliments the audio description inside Disneyland and Disney California Adventure parks’ attractions and theaters that was launched over a year ago.

“Disney Parks have long been at the forefront of providing accessibility for guests with disabilities,” said Greg Hale, chief safety officer and vice president of Worldwide Standards and Auditing for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts. “We are pleased to build on this legacy with new technology that enables us to do something that has never been done before – provide rich audio description in moving attractions and outdoor environments.”

The enhanced audio description service adds more options to the existing device including:

  • Descriptions of outdoor locations throughout Disneyland park.
  • An interactive audio menu that allows guests to choose the type of information they would like to receive about outdoor areas – from a description of their surroundings to information about nearby attractions, restaurants, and entertainment.

The 7.2-ounce handheld device continues to offer Disneyland Resort guests:

  • Detailed audio description of key visual elements, including action and scenery, for more than 20 attractions at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure parks.
  • Assistive listening for guests with mild to moderate hearing loss.
  • Handheld captioning that enables guests to read captions while enjoying specific attractions.
  • Activation of closed captioning on pre-show video monitors.

“I know of no other public space in this country, or anywhere else for that matter, that is as welcoming and accessible to people with disabilities as Disney’s theme parks,” said Larry Goldberg, director of the WGBH National Center for Accessible Media in Boston, which is considered a pioneer in developing multimedia and new technologies that make media accessible for the disabled. “With their captioning systems for guests who are deaf or hard of hearing and now outdoor environmental description for guests who are blind or visually impaired, Disneyland park is now more inclusive than ever. WGBH is proud of our role in helping make this happen.”

WGBH teamed up with Disney to deliver outdoor audio description, marking the latest collaboration between the two organizations that began with the installation of WGBH’s Rear Window® Captioning system in Disney’s theater-based attractions in 1996.

Disney has patented and licensed the assistive technology that could serve a wide variety of retail, commercial and industrial applications. The technology is already being used at the World of Coca-Cola Museum in Atlanta, The Hall at Patriot Place in Boston and the Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas and was awarded the National Society of Professional Engineers 2010 “New Product Award.”

“We are particularly excited to make this technology available beyond Disney Parks and extend accessibility where it was previously impractical,” added Hale.

Other examples of Disney Parks’ services for guests with disabilities include:

  • Accessible experiences – Disney Parks’ focus is on providing guests with accessible experiences, from vehicles at The Little Mermaid-Ariel’s Undersea Adventure that enable guests to remain in their wheelchair during the ride to American Sign Language interpretation at live shows.
  • Pamphlets for guests with disabilities – Disability-specific pamphlets, including one for guests with visual disabilities, provide an overview of services and facilities available for guests with disabilities. Braille guidebooks also are available to assist guests with visual disabilities during their visit.
  • Resort access – Disneyland Resort hotels offer special equipment and facilities for guests with disabilities such as phone text, visual indicator door knocks and sloped-entry pools.

The handheld assistive device is offered at no cost with a refundable deposit at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort theme parks. For further information about services for guests with disabilities, guests should visit www.disneyland.com or call 714-781-7290.

*U.S. Patents 6,785,539 and 7,224,967 may apply.

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