Wednesday, May 4, 2011

36. Assistive Technology Device

Walt Disney World is one of the most accomodating destinations in the world for guests with disabilities. Whether it is the fact that most attractions are wheel chair accesible or that the Disney buses can accommodate guests in motorized carts, they know how to make all guests feel welcome and included whenever possible. This is especially true when speaking of a relatively new device that proves what is possible using modern technology.

This amazing electronic marvel is called an Assistive Technology Device (or ATD). It weighs only about seven ounces and isn't too much bigger than a smartphone. Its main function is to provide detailed audio descriptions of attractions and outdoor areas in the theme parks to visually impaired guests. The device can hang around your neck with the attached lanyard and includes a set of headphones.

So how does this technology actually work?  Using hidden sensors throughout the park, the device knows where you are located and will give occasional descriptions about what is around you.  In addition to the general descriptions, the ATD has an easy to navigate menu system that allows guests to hear more information about the nearest attractions, restrooms, restaurants, and shops.  While waiting in line for an attraction you will hear interesting information about the queue.  You will then be guided by audio as to what is happening throughout the ride or show.  From what I have learned, this device is truly a blessing to those with partial or total vision loss.

But wait, there's more!  The Assistive Technology Device is also a great help to the hearing impaired.  There is a decent size screen that automatically provides the dialog for whatever ride or show you are visiting.  I can think of many attractions where this would be a tremendous help to someone with hearing loss.  Once again, kudos to Disney for finding ways to enhance the experience for all guests.

The Assistive Technology Device is available at the guest relations window at each theme park.  It requires a refundable deposit but is otherwise completely free to use throughout your day.  If anyone you know suffers from hearing or vision impairment and is planning a trip to Walt Disney World, please let them know about this great device.  I'm sure they will thank you for it!

Have a Disneyriffic Day and remember to keep moving forward.  See ya real soon!

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