Once upon a time on the Pediatric Cochlear Implant Circle a Mom asked whether or not people on the forum request the "Disability Pass" at Walt Disney Theme Parks.
My reply was no. The issue was whether or not I considered Jordan as disabled, and I've never considered Jordan to be anything other than Jordan with a hearing loss.
My dad and I decided to take the kids to Disney, we'd been planning and saving to be able to do so. The big day was getting closer and I couldn't decide between Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios, so I made the classic Facebook appeal. The consensus was for Hollywood Studios and during the thread, Paula suggested that I inform myself once at the Park regarding cc services available. She didn't say, "Go get the Disney Disability Pass!" She said, "They have excellent services available that will improve Jordan's experience at the Park."
So I did just that.
I walked into Guest Relations at Hollywood Studios and I explained that Jordan has a hearing loss, that I'd heard Disney has captioning available on rides and shows, could he please advise me. Justin was extremely nice, happy, a pleasure and a half to speak to. He pulled out a "Guide for Guests with Disabilities" that was the same map as the one they give out in the park, only next to each ride and show was indicated what type of captioning was available. He explained
Assistive Listening: utilizes Disney's Handheld Device to amplify sound through headphones or induction loop at specific attractions. Devices are recommended for Guests with mild to moderate hearing loss. Available at Guest Relations and require a $25 refundable deposit (must return item on same day for refund).
Reflective Captioning: (didn't work in the only place we tried it, but they were so nice to set it up in a front row seat) Available at many theater-type attractions, utilizing an LED display to project desired captions onto an acrylic panel positioned in front of you.
Handheld Captioning: (we used this often in Hollywood Studios, less in Magic Kingdom) Utilizes Disney's Handheld Device to display text in locations such as moving attractions. Available at Guest Relatoins and requires a $25 refundable deposit.
Video Captioning: Caption-ready monitors are designated with a "CC" (The Toy-Story Ride had this option) symbol and can only be activated by remote control.
Written aids: (At one of the shows, they asked us if we needed a script of the performance) Guest Assistance Packets containing dialogue, narrations, flashlights and pen and paper are available at or near the performance areas or entrances for most shows and attractions.
Telephones: Pay phones equipped with Text Typewriteers (TTYs) are available at designated locatoins throughout the parks.
I gave Justin my $25 deposit and he handed me a "Guest Assistance Card". The Guest Assistance Card enabled us to use an alternate attraction entrance where available and to sit in the front row of theaters or ride vehicles where applicable. Basically, we used the fast pass lane for all attractions.
We used the card.
And that made all the difference.
When I got the handheld captioning captioner and the card, I explained to Jordan that these were services that Disney made available to him because of his hearing loss, so that he could enjoy the Park at the highest level possible.
He smiled this amazing smile, a totally satisfied smile.
I'm going to write this here, because it was such a bizarre sensation. At one of the rides, I can't remember which one, we actually entered a disability line and we passed in front of the non-disability line. Our line was filled with wheelchairs and families pushing those wheelchairs. I glanced at the really slow moving line as ours pushed ahead and for some reason, there was justice in the world at that precise moment. I actually got a little choked up.
It was reverse justice. Like things were finally EASY for us and difficult for everyone else. I've never had that sensation of self-pity or why us-ness, but the difference in accessibility at that precise moment was switched. And I felt it.
We kind of did another thing that was probably totally illegal and unacceptable.
I don't do roller-coasters or stomach-drop-through-your-mouth types of things.
So, I would accompany him to the front of the line to get on the ride. We found an amazing Mexican baseball team his age, and he made friends with them during the line. Our pass allowed four people to get on a ride with Jordan, so we kind of offered another ride to three of the team for the next three rides.