The Universal Sphere: An Inspiring Experience for All
As manager of The Universal Sphere, I have the joy of seeing guests react to its powerful message each day that I come to work. During the experience, viewers are transported into space, through deep waters, and to the edge of Earth by the short film “The Power of I.” My favorite part is witnessing audiences of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities enjoy the journey together.
I will never forget the first time our team provided closed-captioning devices to a group of deaf adults who were visiting The Universal Sphere. The guests were able to enjoy the 270-degree cinematic experience alongside others who were not using closed captioning — and everyone received the same inspiring message: “One idea can change the world.”
I grew up with a sibling with intellectual and developmental disabilities at a time before most attractions prioritized accessibility. It was often a challenge to visit and enjoy places together as a family — we always had to be prepared to adapt our plans when we went anywhere as a group. We never expected things could be the other way around — that places would adapt to welcome us.
In recent years, I’ve noticed society shift to “make room” for people with different abilities, by providing more accessible and inclusive public spaces. While this is positive progress, authentic inclusion is more than making space for someone to simply exist. It’s about providing the opportunity for people of all abilities to participate in activities and enjoy meaningful experiences together. At The Universal Sphere, I am proud to say that this is a key priority for our team.
As a free experience open to the public, The Universal Sphere was designed to welcome the widest possible audience. The experience is wheelchair-accessible and service-animal friendly, and offers closed captioning and audio description, with full translations available in Spanish and Mandarin Chinese.
Recently, our team participated in extensive specialized training to provide the best experience for autistic and neurodiverse visitors – which resulted in The Universal Sphere being recognized as a Certified Autism Center™ (CAC). As a CAC, The Universal Sphere is featured on Autism Travel, an online resource to help families plan to visit accessible and inclusive destinations where they can enjoy shared experiences.
During the 2022 holiday season, we will begin to offer a sensory-friendly version of the experience to create a more welcoming and comfortable environment for those with sensory, social, learning, or cognitive disabilities. The sensory-friendly version includes technical updates, such as reduced volume and centralized sound, advanced notifications of movement, and lighting adjustments to reduce blue light and eliminate flashing.
Comcast’s commitment to creating accessible and inclusive experiences empowers me to prioritize my role as ally and advocate. And, through my role at Comcast, I believe I am contributing to a better, more accessible, and more inclusive world for the next generation, which is important to me as a parent — and as a sister.