First-of-a-Kind, Handheld Device Brings Magic of Disney Theme Parks to Guests with Disabilities

Disney Close CaptionLAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., April 16, 2009 –  Disney engineers have taken recent advances in wireless technology one step further, creating a first-of-a-kind, handheld assistive device to bring the magic of Disney theme parks to guests with visual and hearing disabilities.

Disney’s Handheld Device combines multiple functions – assistive listening, handheld captioning, and closed captioning activation – into one small, easy-to-use platform. The assistive listening system provides amplified audio, while handheld captioning enables guests to read captions while enjoying specific theme park attractions. Closed captioning is also activated by the handheld device in pre-show areas where TV displays narrate the upcoming experience.

The device also provides audio description for guests who are blind or with low vision. This service provides narrated information about key visual elements in attractions such as actions, settings and scene changes and works seamlessly with the existing show audio. From the moment a guest steps into an attraction, they are given rich detail of their surroundings and become immediately involved in the experience.

“We have a longstanding commitment to providing outstanding services for guests with disabilities,” said Greg Hale, chief safety officer and vice president of Worldwide Safety and Accessibility for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts. “We had been looking many years for a way to deliver content in narrative attractions where fixed captioning systems weren’t an option. With this device, we found a solution for building multiple functions into a single lightweight, durable device that is simple to use and easy to maintain.”

The innovative handheld assistive device was designed to fit in a guest’s palm, weighing a mere 7.2 ounces. The Disney-patented* technology delivers location-based and synchronized information as guests move through an attraction. The device can also serve a wide variety of retail, commercial and industrial applications.

“We are now making this technology available outside of our Disney Parks,” said Hale.  “Museums, movie theaters, stage shows, tours – it extends accessibility where it was previously impractical.” Softeq Development Corporation handled product development and is licensed to make this technology available beyond Disney Parks.

The device is offered at no additional cost at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort theme parks. For further information about services for guests with disabilities, guests should visit the Walt Disney World Web site at disneyworld.com or contact Walt Disney World Information at 407-824-4321 (voice) or 407-827-5141 (TTY).

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