The imminent landfall of Hurricane Florence tells us that we are in the midst of a time of year that has become known as “hurricane season.” Sadly, it is also a period when we are reminded that the needs of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing are sometimes minimized and even forgotten during an emergency.
Approximately 35 million Americans are hearing impaired. It has been well documented that training designed to help communicate with this community during a disaster is rare, and frequently lacks standardization or integration into a formal emergency management plan.
All too often, crucial information is delivered infrequently, late, and is often missing critical facts – if it is delivered at all. These dangerous communication gaps leave the Deaf and Hard of Hearing with an incomplete understanding of what is happening, when it will happen, and what steps they are expected to take.
What can your community do to better communicate with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing when faced with an emergency?