Celebrating International Deaf Awareness Week at Disneyland Resort

Heather Hust Rivera

by , Vice President, Consumer Products

Mark showed the following signs in this order: Disney, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy and Pluto.

As I’ve shared in a previous post, I’m 40% deaf, and I just recently learned that the last full week of September (Sunday through Saturday) is International Deaf Awareness Week. This particular time commemorates the first World Congress of the Deaf held that week in 1951.

To celebrate, we’re sharing a video that shows some of the services we offer guests with hearing disabilities. My favorite part of the video is at the very end when we show the signs for some of the popular Disney characters.

It’s actually a really interesting story that I learned from Mark Jones, the manager of services for guests with disabilities. There were no official signs in American Sign Language for Disney characters and locations, so in 1996, the Walt Disney Company created some official signs to be incorporated into many of the interpreted performances in the parks. They worked with guests and professional interpreters to find out which signs where the most logical and intuitive based on the characters and locations.

Were you able to guess which Disney characters Mark is signing in the video? We’ll post the answers at the end of the day.


  • Just more proof that Disney always goes that extra mile (or two or three) in order to make sure that EVERYBODY is able to enjoy the magic the park has to offer.

  • love it!!

    Esp at the end 8(:-D

    Keep up the great work!!!!

    Kelly D < 8(:-D

  • Thanks for posting this! I am an interpreter for the Deaf and I didn’t know that Disney had developed official signs for some of their characters. It was nice to learn what they are.

  • We were in the DCA park on 9/10/10 and I was very happy to see an ASL interpreter for Turtle Talk with Crush. I watched the interpreter the whole time and that it was awesome!

  • This makes me excited to visit the park for the first time with my two deaf kids! We have researched the services available and it is just amazing. We are going next spring, and I know my kids will have a great time.

  • I am going to guess that the Mickey Mouse Band (the opening song for Mickey Mouse Club) that goes who is the leader of the Jamboree? M I C K E Y M O U S E!!!!! 🙂 just a guess!! and it is so great! is it possible that people without disabilities can try this as well?

  • I have heard that they are implementing assistance for the blind also. Could you supply information on this?

  • Thank you again, Heather, for the help at the WOC meet up for my grandson Ben. He is still talking about it. He’s only 10 and he is learning that he doesn’t need to be embarrassed when he has access to an interpreter. At first he felt singled out when the signer was signing “just for him” but as the evening went on he became more comfortable with the situation. What a safe place to explore his on challenges. What a blessing it is to have all these ways for him to experience Disney in his own special way!

  • Thank you so much for this exciting news. As a person who loves going to Disneyland, it’s been more difficult the last couple of years as my hearing has decreased because of my acoustic neuroma. Disney is always looking to continue making Disneyland the happiest place on earth!!

  • Way to go Disney….this is great to see….

  • Where does one get the device? Guest Services or individual attractions? My son was born missing his left ear (microtia/atresia), and though he can hear perfectly with his right ear, this device might still be of assistance to him in certain situations, especially where sound is directional.

    • You can pick up the devices at the Guest Relations offices, near the entrances to Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure parks.

  • This is so neat! I’m an ASL student and am working towards becoming an interpreter and would love nothing more than to walk around Disneyland all day interpreting. The signs were Donald, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Pluto.

  • Mary from Santa Barbara, CA

    Not because I am a former cast member of Disney and impartial to Disney. But after watching this video for the Deaf and how Disney has services for these Guest. This is why there is so many people who come and visit the parks, spending a day or up to a week because you want to accommodate everyone who visits. DISNEY YOU ARE THE BEST!!!!!

  • This is awesome! As an ASL student, I’m really happy that Disney is doing this and reaching out to the d/Deaf world.

  • I just can see Mickey, Minnie and Pluto! This is the best place on earth for people with Disabilities 🙂

  • Disneyland, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy and Pluto…. The services Disney offers are great. Definitely worth asking for if you are with a hearing impaired person.

  • I am always amazed at the technology available for not only the hearing-impaired but also the visually-impaired. I’m glad that Disney provides services and devices like these to help everyone enjoy the Magic of Disney.

    I believe that he signed Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Pluto.

  • I wasn’t aware there were so many services for the hearing-impaired. Doesn’t surprise me, though!

    Typo at 1:16. (“at” used twice, back-to-back).

  • Thanks! That was very informative. I know at least one of the workers in World of Disney in Downtown Disney is fluent in ASL. Was he signing Mickey, Donald and Goofy at the end? I’m bad at guessing. =(.

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