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
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
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.