[games_access] Disney going accessible
eleanor at 7128.com
Fri Jun 25 09:52:08 EDT 2010
I saw this on the BlindKid forum. My question is, if they consider it
cost effective to make the attractions at Disney World accessible, are
they planning to make the computer games they make or authorize to be
St. Petersburg Times
June 22, 2010
Disney deploys more technology to assist the disabled
By Mark Albright, Times Staff Writer
Disney's parks are now more accessible to disabled visitors.
LAKE BUENA VISTA - With some technological aid, the blind now can ride
Toy Story Midway Mania, listening to a narrator describe the action
others see in the raucous animated Walt Disney World shoot-em-up.
"We're using technology to make the experience more inclusive," said
Greg Hale, worldwide vice president of safety and accessibility for
Disney World Parks and Resorts. "People come here in groups, so we don't
want someone feeling they must sit outside while others have fun."
Disney spent the last year installing wireless headsets for the blind or
deaf in 50 of the 100 rides, attractions and shows in all four of its
four Florida parks. This summer Disney followed up by adding recorded
narratives describing the immediate surroundings in every outdoor
section of each park, including restaurant offerings, restrooms and
visual features of the
It's part of a less-mentioned chapter in the legacy of Walt Disney and
his brother Roy who built Epcot to be fully compliant with the American
with Disabilities Act 12 years before it was law. Walt Disney Co.
developed several patented aids for the disabled in its parks, including
coaster seating, and helped write many of the benchmark requirements.
Next month the
company is getting a new product award for its wireless assistive
technology from the National Society of Professional Engineers.
The company also knows it's smart business as marketers begin calling
the disabled "the third minority" behind African Americans and
Hispanics. About 19 percent of the population, or about 51 million
people, is disabled in some way, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Half are younger than 65, and 46 percent are working.
Disney, which specializes in family vacations, knows the disabled seldom
travel alone. Hence, Disney water parks stock free aquatic wheelchairs.
The golf courses feature tricked-out golf carts with a pivoting seat
suitable for those who use wheelchairs to swing a club. Closed
captioning or amplified audio has long been available in most attractions.
"We do story telling so we look for ways to enhance it," said Hale,
recalling a blind Epcot patron thanking him because "for the first time
she found out Figment is a purple dinosaur."
Disney's new wireless system, which replaced clunky pre-recorded
cassette tapes that had to be rewound, integrates multiple aids for the
disabled into one handheld device about the size and weight of a wallet.
The device picks up signals from strategically deployed GPS, radio and
infrared transmitters all over the parks.
Sounds simple. But it took a year to program the software, deploy the
hardware out of sight and hire a Boston broadcasting company to write
and record thousands of descriptions that can be easily understood by
"Technology like this is just huge," said Dan Mann, chief executive of
Lighthouse of Pinellas, which provides services to the blind and
Disney officials declined to say how many of the more than 100,000 who
visit Disney World every day are disabled. That's because not all the
disabled drop by guest relations to check out the free (with a $25
"But it's well into the thousands every day," said Hale.
Mark Albright can be reached at albright at sptimes.com or (727) 893-8252.
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