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Disney World creates wireless magic

The entertainment giant is providing hearing-impaired visitors the use of wireless devices to follow some of the action in its theme parks.

Disney World is using wireless technology to provide captioning and translation services so more people can feel a part of what is, after all, a small world.

Entertainment giant Walt Disney said Monday that hearing-impaired visitors can use specially provided Compaq iPaqs to read text versions of, for example, the conversation between Winnie the Pooh and Tigger during the "Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" ride in its Magic Kingdom.

The device is automatically triggered so whoever is carrying it can wander from room to room and ride to ride without adjusting the iPaq, Disney spokesman David Brady said.

"Before, captioning for the deaf was fixed, like captions projected onto a Plexiglas screen on a seat in front of you," Brady said.

Disney is using the same wireless network and type of technology to also provide French, German, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish translations of about 20 rides and attractions. The translations are heard through a headset attached to the device.

Actors play out the roles in vocal characterizations true to original English translations, Brady said.

The captioning and language translations are available in the Disney theme parks in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. They are free, but may require a refundable deposit. Disney said it intends to soon offer the same programs at its Orange County, Calif., theme park.