Disney’s impressive accessibility for deaf guests includes signing Mickey
Deaf and hard-of-hearing guests at the “happiest place on earth” are also finding it’s one of the most accessible.
Disney parks are proving that they take accessibility seriously, especially when it comes to guests who have hearing loss. With a wide variety of accessibility services for deaf and hard-of-hearing, guests continue to be pleasantly surprised, especially with Mickey’s sign language skills.
Disney characters use sign language
Alia Sendlack, a student at the Disney College Program, recently went to Disney World and was surprised to talk to Mickey using fluent sign language, according to the Daily Mail.
“We were at Hollywood studios for my birthday and really wanted to meet Mickey and Minnie,” she told the Daily Mail. “I wanted to teach him how to sign his name so if he has guests who are hard of hearing, he can make the interaction all the more magical. But Minnie realized we were signing and took us to meet Mickey herself and he surprises us with his knowledge of sign language! It was a magical surprise!”
“…he surprises us with his knowledge of sign language! It was a magical surprise!”
Shaylee, a little girl with hearing loss, was featured last year in a video by Disney, in which she also used sign language to communicate with the characters.
“When I was growing up I never expected anyone to sign,” Shaylee’s mother says in the video. “That was the world I grew up in.”
Disney services for hard-of-hearing guests
More than 5 percent of the world’s population – 360 million people – has disabling hearing loss (328 million adults and 32 million children), according to the World Health Organization. In the US alone, it’s estimated that 2-4 of every 1,000 people in the US are “functionally deaf.”
Disney’s Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World also have an estimated 5 percent visit its U.S. parks per year.
Along with Disney’s signing characters, Disney resorts have assistive listening devices, handheld captioning, video captioning and guest room amenities to assist guests with hearing loss, according to their website. Additional services are available upon request, including written aids, text typewriters and reflective captioning.
Have you experienced a special moment at Disney parks as a hard-of-hearing guest? Let us know in the comments!