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Handheld Device Enhances Experience for Guests with Disabilities

June 07, 2007

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., June 8, 2007 — Whether exploring the world’s most famous rivers on the Jungle Cruise or chasing down poachers while aboard Kilimanjaro Safaris, a next generation handheld assistive device at Walt Disney World Resort is further enhancing the experience for guests with disabilities.

Designed by Disney engineers, the new device combines multiple functions into one small, easy-to-use platform. Services currently enabled include handheld captioning and closed captioning. By September, the devices also will provide amplified audio for assistive listening, and future plans call for the devices to provide descriptive audio for people who are blind or with low vision.

“We have a longstanding commitment to providing outstanding services to guests with disabilities,” said Greg Hale, chief safety officer and vice president of worldwide safety and accessibility. “When we couldn't find an 'off-the-shelf' solution, we developed our own technology to further enhance our guests’ experience.”

The handheld assistive device, which is about the size of a PDA, utilizes wireless technology to enable the device to know its location and take appropriate pre-programmed actions. Disney has patented and licensed the technology, which could serve a wide variety of retail, commercial and industrial applications.

“We are currently exploring opportunities to make this technology available in venues outside of our Disney 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,” added Hale. The new World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta, for example, opened in May and uses the technology.

The device is available free of charge at all four Walt Disney World 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).