Tornado Alerts for Deaf and Hard of Hearing

~ Authored by Lee Jackson

Imagine that you are Deaf.  You are shopping inside your favorite mall or a nearby store and suddenly a tornado appears outside.  How would you know a tornado is near?  Along with other potential disaster warnings, tornado alerts for Deaf and Hard of Hearing residents in a neighborhood are often inaccessible.Tornado Alerts for Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Effects on Deaf People

In the Midwest, there are a lot of new technologies being set up all around the big cities, making their natural disaster notifications more Deaf friendly for the residents in their communities.  If you are out shopping, typically, most stores have flashing lights that will warn you there is something serious happening.  You can also tell by watching other people and their reactions; if they run, or walk quickly, you can know something is going on. However, not all areas are Deaf or visually friendly.

During a heavy storm, Deaf people cannot hear if the tornado siren is blasting, warning others that there is a tornado in the area.  Because of this, Deaf people in the area are at a higher risk of getting hurt or killed.  This is often because they are not aware that a tornado has been spotted nearby, and so they did not have much time to go for cover in their basement or a safe place.  Scary, huh?

Some Solutions

Some Deaf people rely on TV news, but what if the power goes out or the satellite disconnects?  People who are Deaf may have no idea what is happening outside or how to decide actions for their safety. Residents who can hear sometimes hear the high winds and determine if there is a tornado nearby. They also can rely on battery operated radios or scanners, an option not available to Deaf residents.    .

New technologies available include LED equipped tornado sirens and various colored alert lights in schools and businesses.  For instance, color coded flashing lights to indicate different situations, such as tornado, earthquake, fire, or active intruder.  This is encouraged so that there is access for anyone during a potential disaster.

Check out the articles in additional resources to see what it means to have Deaf friendly technology and emergency preparedness.  Beyond simply being prepared for disasters, though, you can also provide Deaf friendly space for work, school, and entertainment.  Even more than just tornado alerts for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people, how else can you become more Deaf friendly?


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