Disney provides wireless captioning devices

Walt Disney World Co. has developed a pioneering program to provide synchronized captions via wireless technology to help guests with hearing disabilities experience select theme park attractions.

The system is scheduled to debut on Dec. 5 the 100th anniversary of Walt Disney’s birth at the “Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream” attraction at the Disney-MGM Studios.

To develop the device, engineers at the Walt Disney World Resort utilized recent advances in wireless communication. The device, which uses a handheld receiver, enables guests to read captions while enjoying specific theme park attractions where captioning previously was impractical or unattainable, such as attractions that send guests through multiple show scenes or outdoor environments.

Portable captioning will be available at more than 20 Walt Disney World attractions by the end of 2002, and future expansion of the program is being planned at the Walt Disney World Resort and the Disneyland Resort.

“Our challenge was finding a way to deliver captions in narrative attractions where fixed captioning systems weren’t an option,” said Greg Hale, vice president of Design and Engineering for the Walt Disney World Resort. “When we couldn’t find an ‘off-the-shelf’ solution, we developed our own technology. We are now exploring opportunities to make this technology available in venues outside of theme parks, where it could provide synchronized captioning, audio translations and other services in a wide variety of applications such as museums, movie theaters, tours and transportation.”

The handheld captioning system joins several existing services for guests with hearing disabilities, including reflective captioning, American Sign Language interpreters, assistive listening systems, video captioning and printed attraction aids. The Guidebook for Guests with Disabilities offers an overview of the services and facilities available at each park.

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