by Landa Phelan

I had the privilege to participate in the Epcot focus group that helped Disney evaluate its audio description unit. The group consisted of over 30 blind and visually impaired people, some of whom had guide dogs.

To get us to Epcot, Disney picked us up at the Rosen Center Hotel. My first reaction was, "Wow! [Epcot] is huge!" I was told that Disneyland could fit in the parking lot.

Once there, Disney staff divided us up into three groups. Each group had its own guide. First, we learned how to use the device. The unit was about the size of a remote control, attached to a lanyard around your neck, and you held it face up. There were 9 tactile buttons that were simple to operate. It had an earpiece and GPS system, and the capability to provide us with audio description as we went from one pavilion to another. We did have to stay on a certain path in order for it to work. Our guide told us when to turn right or left. The guides were very nice, patient and open to all suggestions along the way.

We received VIP treatment and did not have to wait in long lines. The groups went to some of the same events. Each event was so realistic, including sounds and smells; if there was a fire you felt the heat and smelled smoke.

We visited France, which was wonderful. I really enjoyed and had no idea how beautiful France was. We also went to Canada and Niagara Falls, and it was beautiful!

Another attraction was Spaceship Earth, a journey through time and back. I enjoyed it and felt the journey. It was interesting and educational.

Then there was a journey into imagination with "Fig" (as in "figment"). I really enjoyed this one; however, I would have liked a little description of what the Figment character looked like. At the end of the ride we were to select a button on a touch screen to see which imagination category we fit into. I could not participate. If there were a way to make it tactile, I could have participated.

My guide dog had no problem with the special effects like explosions, fire, rides, or loud noises. I was impressed with the pavement. It was a very hot, humid day, but the pavement did not seem to be too hot for my guide's paws.

Thank you, Disney staff and Disney, for caring about the disabled and understanding that we are part of the community and we want to enjoy a full life just like everyone else. It was a pleasure to participate in this focus group.

Previous Article

Next Article

Return to Table of Contents

Return to the Braille Forum Index