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June 5, 2005

Thank you, Universal Studios Hollywood!

From: HLO/WRAD - Jun 5, 2005

WRAD Deaf and Hard of Hearing Awareness Day at Universal Studios Hollywood was a Big Success!

Written by Bruce Gross

About 250 deaf and hard of hearing people and their families and friends came to Universal Studios Hollywood in Universal City, California on Saturday June 4th which was a perfect day with plenty of sunshine in the afternoon.

Universal Studios Hollywood needs to be complimented LOUDLY for providing GREAT accommodations for the deaf and hard of hearing as it was the BEST since WRAD first hosted the Universal Studios Hollywood event more than fifteen to seventeen years ago. Back then in the 1980s we had to recruit about 25 to 30 interpreter volunteers to come to Universal Studios to assist communication needs for the deaf and hard of hearing and there were no captions on video screens for the shows and attractions. No scripts given to the deaf. That was about it. But on June 4, 2005 it was a very different story! And it was much better !!!! How times have changed! Thanks to technological advances too.

Here are the reasons why Universal Studios Hollywood is doing much better today:

1. For the famous Studio tram tours, there were wonderful colorful 25-page photo scripts for the deaf and hard of hearing to pick up before the tour and read them when they were riding the tram through Universal Studios. They were available for the deaf and hard of hearing and we received good feedback from the deaf and hard of hearing people about the scripts.

2. Whenever a deaf or a hard of hearing person was riding the tram, the tour guide would turn on the captions of the video screen near the top of the tram for the deaf and hard of hearing guests to enjoy watching the videos with captions. The deaf or hard of hearing person would have the photo script with him or her as well as watching captions on video TV screen. It was wonderful !!!

3. Because June 4th was an awareness day for the deaf and hard of hearing, Universal Studios Hollywood also provided some sign language interpreters on the tram tour during the day. They first set up three different time slots of the tram tour with interpreters but because it was so popular and more deaf and hard of hearing people requested additional times so Universal added two more tram tours with interpreters later in the day. It was great.

4. The interpreters were skilled and they did a remarkable job working for Universal Studios Hollywood. We did not have interpreters for the tram tour only as Universal also placed some of them for the Waterworld and Animal Planet Live shows. Most other attractions and shows were captioned for the deaf and hard of hearing .

5. When deaf and hard of hearing people came to Universal to pick up their tickets that they ordered in advance through WRAD, they were given some plastic blue closed caption passes at the WRAD registration table to show to the guides at attractions they were deaf or hard of hearing so they would switch on the closed captions on video screens of the attraction they were attending just like Backdraft, and other shows. It was fantastic!!!! I had the opportunity to see the Animal Planet Live during my break from working at the WRAD registration table and was impressed to see that one deaf boy was selected from the audience to participate in the show with the animals. The interpreter was on hand to interpret for the boy and it was purely entertainment to watch the show.

6. To make the day on June 4th more pleasant, Christy Smith, Deaf Contestant from CBS Survivor 6: The Amazon was featured as a guest of the Sam Simon Foundation promoting the Hearing Dog Program. She was seen sitting with representatives from Sam Simon Foundation at the WRAD table inside the park near the Terminator 2 Studio signing autographs. Information about the Hearing Dog Program was passed out to the general public For more information about Hearing Dog Program contact The Sam Simon Foundation at 310-457-5898 Voice/TTY or visit their website at Christy is the co-producer of a new children's series, Christy's Kids: Challenge Yourself! ( The Christy's Kids series is a platform for teaching sign language, with deaf and hard of hearing kids being led by Christy on challenging adventures.

It took many months to plan the awareness day for the deaf and hard of hearing at Universal Studios Hollywood but it was worth it. Thanks to some people from Universal Studios Hollywood and WRAD including the deaf and hard of hearing community who helped to contribute the event at Universal Studios Hollywood at various times.

There were some visitors from Mexico including the WRAD-Mexico President Guillermo Palomino Jimenez who participated in the deaf and hard of hearing awareness day at Universal Studios Hollywood and Dr. Patrick Seamans, the Chairman of the WRAD Board was on hand to escort Guillermo and his guests around Universal Studios.

After the event at Universal Studios Hollywood some deaf and hard of hearing people walked to the Saddle Ranch Restaurant and had dinner there. We were amazed to meet many friendly workers at the restaurant as many of them were able to use sign language to communicate with the deaf and hard of hearing. The waiters and waitresses also provided paper and pen in case we needed to communicate with some of them who did not know how to sign. The entertainment was wonderful as some of the group from WRAD tried the mechanical bulls but it was really hard to stay on them for a long time as many fell quickly after the bulls were turned on. It was fun anyhow.

The event on June 4th at Universal Studios Hollywood was great and we hope to have it again next year or the year after.

You are more than welcome to visit Universal Studios Hollywood anytime during the year and request for interpreters in advance or scripts before you board the tram ride. Please also request closed caption pass in order to see captions at most of the attractions and shows.

For more information about WRAD, go to and you are more than welcome to be included on our email master list to receive news and events from time to time on our HLONEWS mailing list.