At Disneyland where I work, they allow you to have a n extra little pin at the bottom of your name tag if you speak a language other than English. I think the idea is that people from all over the world come to Disneyland and should you need extra assistance talking to anyone, you can just pull your friend aside who has a “Mandarin” name tag on and they can help you (or whatever language you need). They’re really stringent about who they let have a pin. You have to go and do a special test with a native speaker of that language. If you pass the test, they put our name on a list, and only people with their name on the list are allowed to have the pin.
They offer an ASL name tag, but I’ve been holding off on getting one until I felt I knew enough sign to really help someone. Besides, the guy I would be testing with is a CODA, interpreted for Hundreds of years at Disney World (OK, I’m exaggerating), and is now head of disability services for the whole park… very nerve-wracking. I’m starting interpreting classes now, though. I felt like this was something I should certainly be able to pass. I also felt like this is just the first in a series of tests that I’m going to be taking in the next few years, so I better get used to it.
Really, it ended up being super easy and a lot of fun. The guy who tested me was extremely friendly and knowledgeable. As soon as he started explaining what would happen, I knew I would pass no problem. The test consisted of three parts: Part one, he would give me a vocabulary work and I would sign it back to him. Part two, he would sign a work or small phrase and I would tell him what he said. Part 3 was a short conversation. I don’t think I’ve taken a test so easy since ASL 1. He was impressed that I knew the sign for “tickets” (super-easy!!!) and the hardest thing he signed to me was that he lost his 7-year-old daughter and explained to me what she was wearing. The conversation part consisted of the information you give to every deaf person you meet at any Deaf Event. When the test was over, he told me that he thought it was the quickest he’s ever given, as he just skipped over the easy stuff. Let me tell you, I felt great!!
The best part about the meeting, though, was all the information he gave me on Deaf Services at Disneyland. He was saying that people will see my pin and expect me to be an expert, so he’d give me all the information he could. Such cool stuff!! They have a little handheld Closed Captioning device that’s radio-tuned to the ride, so people on the ride can read what the overhead voice is saying in places like the haunted mansion. They also offer interpreted performances four days a week, 2 days at California Adventure, and 2 days at Disneyland. I have to say, I kinda want to ask for one of those Closed Captioning devices the next time I’m in the park. It would be fun to see how accurate they are and how easy they are to read and use while riding the ride. I’ll definitely have to do that and report back.
The other thing we discussed that I thought was interesting is when I’m allowed to interpret and when I’m not. It’s all stuff we’ve covered in classes I’ve taken too, but I thought it was great that he’s concerned about Deaf people having qualified interpreters when they need them. All in all, I was very impressed with my Disney Deaf experience. I can’t wait to try out their stuff for myself. And in the mean time, I’ll be waiting for my pin to arrive!!