On Friday 19 February, Chanel Kinniburg from the Herald Sun reported ‘Hearing-impaired kids are disappointed sign language interpreters will not be provided at Disney on Ice shows.’ After further coverage in The Age, Feld Entertainment Inc., producers of Disney On Ice, issued a statement over the weekend announcing the reinstatement of interpreters. This is a great equal opportunity win. We hope lots of children will enjoy the show with the Auslan interpreters!
Young deaf children across the state were left heartbroken when told there would be no Auslan interpreter at this year’s Disney on Ice shows.
Furious members of the deaf community who posted on the event’s Facebook page were told by the company that an interpreting service could not be provided due to “logistical challenges”.
Zara Kelly, an 8-year-old girl who is hard of hearing said it was unfair that her and her friends wouldn’t not be able to understand the show like other children.
Zara’s mother, Mai Kelly said she never imagined that she’d have to advocate for equal rights when it came to a company that prided itself on inclusion and creativity.
“They’ve set a precedent by doing it in the past around the world and it should be done again,” Ms Kelly said.
“I shouldn’t have to pay more or organise an interpreting service for my daughter to view the same thing as everybody else, it’s her basic human right.”
One in five people in Australia are affected by hearing loss, yet Rebecca Adam, Deaf Children Australia’s Executive General Manager said deaf people — herself included — were burdened with disadvantage everyday.
“Disney is a big part of most people’s childhood — other children have access to this show and it should be provided to deaf children equally,” she signed.
Feld Entertainment yesterday released a statement to the Herald Sun saying that the service wasn’t taken advantage of last year, and therefore they had determined it wasn’t needed this year.
“We will re-evaluate what services could be provided to the deaf community given the increased interest from customers in taking advantage of a service to assist them in enjoying Disney On Ice,” a spokesman said.’
Read The Age article on the same issue in which Mai Kelly was quoted as saying: “We have to fight for everything. We have to fight for equal access and equal opportunities for our children, from education to after-school care.”
Even famous US Deaf actress Marlee Matlin got behind our equal access campaign, linking to The Age article and tweeting “Dear
@DisneyStudiosAU – Could you lend a hand to deaf families wanting to see Disney on Ice? Thanks!”
Over the weekend, Feld Entertainment, Inc., producers of Disney On Ice, announced the reinstatement of the interpreter service in a media release:
Feld Entertainment, Inc., producers of Disney On Ice, announced today that the company is voluntarily reinstating the interpreter service for the hearing impaired that was provided last year in Melbourne for Disney On Ice and will extend the service to six additional Australian cities.
“We committed to re-evaluating our decision and we considered the input from the hearing impaired community. It quickly became clear to us that providing this service was the right thing to do,” said Stephen Payne, Feld Entertainment Vice President of Corporate Communications. “We recognize the importance of providing a service so that all of our guests can enjoy Disney On Ice, and we hope that many in the hearing impaired community will now come and enjoy our show not only in Melbourne, but also in Perth, Adelaide, Wollongong, Brisbane, Newcastle and Sydney.”
“We want to thank our partners at the Walt Disney Company for their support of our decision and the members of the hearing impaired community for letting us know so quickly how much Disney On Ice means to them,” Payne added.
Disney On Ice presents Magical Ice Festival plays various cities in Australia from June 1-July 17, 2016. Exact performances of Disney On Ice presents Magical Ice Festival that will have interpreters for the hearing impaired will be announced on March 15, 2016. More information about the show can be found at www.disneyonice.com.au.