Disney and the Deaf Community


Mckenzie Mangum

Walt Disney World’s Cinderella Castle.

I love anything and everything Disney. I’ve grown up on Disney by either going to Disney, watching movies, or dressing up as a princess. Walt Disney was an amazing innovator and creator, who had to overcome many trials in his short lifetime. Walt was always willing to take risks and try something new to get out of his comfort zone. Disney shows me that I need to take more risks, be more outgoing, learn from mistakes, create new things, and try to make a difference in the world especially for those who have disabling matters beyond their control. So I started to wonder what it would be like if you went to either Disneyland, Disney World, or any parks as someone with a hearing impairment for that matter.
More than 5% of the world’s population has disabling hearing loss. Knowing this Walt Disney World Resort provides sign language interpretation for guests at specific live theme park shows on a rotating basis. Disney’s resorts have assistive listening devices, handheld captioning, video captioning and guest room amenities to assist guests with hearing loss. Additional services are available upon request, which include written aids, text typewriters and reflective captioning.
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 very seriously, especially when it comes to guests who have hearing loss. Having a huge variety of services for the deaf guests, they are often pleasantly surprised, especially when Mickey has some amazing sign language talent.
In an article by Disneyland’s Public Affairs group they state, “The Walt Disney Company was honored at the inaugural National Association of the Deaf Breakthrough Awards Gala, a celebration of advances in media for deaf and hard-of-hearing artists and actors. Notably recognized at the gala was the Disneyland Resort event ‘SIGNin’ in the Street,’ where guests learned about deaf culture through performances, workshops, screenings and celebrity presentations. The Walt Disney Company earned the award for continued promotion of deaf and hard-of-hearing artists, and American Sign Language throughout the entertainment industry.”
Some cast members may even have a pin on their name tag indicating that they are fluent in Sign Language. Their name tag would look like the picture with the finger spelled Sign Language designation underneath.
Disney welcomes over 50 million visitors a year. Of those, more than 100,000 are deaf. The parks have made a concerted effort in recent decades to ensure that every child is welcomed and given special treatment.
It is truly wonderful to see all the things that Disney is willing to do for their guests, of all kinds, and how much thought and consideration is put into all the beautiful things they have to offer. Disney has put real effort into ensuring that its sights and sounds aren’t only for hearing people, and that the deaf and hard-of-hearing can experience all that Disney has to offer. Disney does so many things to make each vacation as magical as possible and they are constantly improving offerings for the Deaf community.