Sendero Group Travel Blog

Follow Sendero travelers on their adventures using accessible GPS.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

 

A day at Disney World using 6 orientation and mobility tools



I took a break from the NFB conference and went to DisneyWorld on Friday. I connected for a bit with a few blind folks but mostly navigated on my own.
It was a lot of work! Even with The OnHand with SenseNav, BlindSquare and Seeing Eye GPS, oh, and the Disney Audio Guide, I averaged about 1 attraction per hour or less.

First, in terms of Disney, the audio guide has no navigation but it does tell you information about venues when you are in their vicinity. I found this at Disneyland as well, it takes a while to get the units working and the staff don't really know how to use them. In this case, the unit that worked at the Epcot Center, did not work in the Magic Kingdom even though I was told it would.

The staff are super helpful but most are not experienced in giving directions or even telling you they are there. I had to depend a lot on sighted directions and it was like pulling teeth to get useful information.

There certainly were lots of Foursquare points around the parks, available in both of the iPhone apps. There was little value to the routing of Seeing Eye GPS since the park streets are only partially in the map database. This means with Blindsquare and Seeing Eye, you use the getting warmer technique to navigate to locations. Since there are not many straight paths, this involves a lot of circuitous walking. Nonetheless, it does work, it just takes a while, not to mention the mobility of dense crowds. I checked into Foursquare in hopes that I might connect with some other blind folks from the convention but that didn't happen nor did I run across any.

My dog Tank did an incredible job. The disconnect is when I would get to a ride where I couldn't take my dog and they would put him in a cage. One Disney employee would watch the dog while another would guide me to the ride and back. Didn't seem like an ideal system but at least they had a way of making it work. I did bring a cane for this situation. I was glad to have the dog for mobility in the crowds and to find the openings in the winding roads and building arches. I could not have accomplished this with a cane.

The OnHand was my strongest tool, simply because of the volume of noise and the fact that I needed my ears for mobility. I used the Braille display to track the getting warmer destination. It didn't have all the foursquare points so that was the down side. I added about 15 points, which are now in the collective user database, available for your download. Having the Braille display was wonderful.

I did record a replay while on Space Mountain. Not sure how well it worked because I assume the GPS would be lost while in the heart of the mountain. I did try to keep my hand on the display while flying through the tunnels but it was not possible most of the time.

I am always interested in the strengths and weaknesses of the various devices and this was certainly an opportunity to compare. They all have their benefits. It certainly taxed my brain to operate 4 devices and to deal with mobility and intense crowds and noise. I was exhausted by the time I got back to the hotel. I should make you tired just hearing this story.

Bottom line, I'd recommend going to Disney World or Land with a sighted person and perhaps one navigation device. It is too bad the Disney audio device doesn't have a navigation component or that the Disney content isn't stored in our user POI database, something we certainly could do. We have marked almost all the attractions in the Disneyland parks and now we have 15 in Disney World. 

Michael May

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