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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:
This lawsuit against the Walt Disney Company for allegedly failing to meet the minimum standards set forth by the American Disabilities Act required to accommodate blind visitors to its parks and websites has been working its way through the courts for a long time. However, the a Federal Judge has just certified a class action lawsuit against Disney clearing the way for the company to potentially face a lot more damages.
The chief complaints, mostly against the Parks & Resorts division are:
1) Disney does not provide schedules, menus and maps in formats which are accessible to blind persons, such as in Braille, large print, or electronic form;
2) Disney does not accommodate the needs of guide dogs;
3) Disney does not accommodate the needs of blind persons during live parades and shows;
4) Disney does not permit any discounted admission for sighted companions who must accompany and support blind persons in the theme parks; and
5) Disney’s websites do not accommodate blind persons who use screen reader programs to access information.
I’m not a lawyer, thus this is just my layman’s observation, so take it with a large grain of salt. I think Disney stands heads and shoulders above almost every other theme park in the USA. However, are they perfect when it comes to ADA compliance? No. As far as point #1, I think Disney can easily refute that (at least in Orlando) as they provide a great mobile tool that provides almost all of that (and there are definitely braille maps in the parks). For #2, while I’ve not had a guide dog myself, Disney has no issues at all with guide dogs in their parks, I see them all the time. There might be some safety reasons while a dog cannot accompany a rider on certain rides, but you have to put safety first. Plus certain rides will be grandfathered in where changes would change the nature of the attraction. As to #3, see #1. With regards to #4, if this is something the law requires, I would be surprised if Disney does not provide it. #5, this appears to be most valid complaint. But then again, it’s a complaint that’s valid against most every website. Targeting Disney is a high visibility move for the cause. I know Disney is rolling out an updated website for Disney.com, so perhaps that will be included then. So, yes, Disney does have room for improvement, but does it rise to the level of a lawsuit? I guess a Federal Judge thinks so.
The full text of the press release is below the jump:
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