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AWR-186: Emergency Responders and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community


Approximately one of every ten people in the United States, 36 million strong, has some degree of hearing loss.

The complex communication issues faced by the vast numbers of people who are deaf or hard of hearing are even more striking during an emergency situation or national disaster.

In the weeks after the September 11, 2001 attacks, Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI), through its members and the various coalitions in which it participates, uncovered serious lapses in emergency communication systems around the country. In fact, the nation received a failing grade in a December 10, 2004 report, Emergency Preparedness and Emergency Communication Access: Lessons Learned Since 9-11 and Recommendation prepared by the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Consumer Advocacy Network (DHHCAN) and the Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf & Hard of Hearing Persons (NVRC).

This Emergency Responders and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community: Taking the First Steps to Disaster Preparedness course, developed by TDI and its partnership with four regional centers, is a major initiative supported by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through the Office for Grants and Training (OGT). The course is designed to provide deaf and hard of hearing individuals and emergency responders with the information and skills needed to prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergency situations involving people with hearing loss. 

(Produced by National Terrorism Preparedness Institute, Center for Public Safety Innovation at St. Petersburg College, FL)

Course Goal
The course, "AWR 186 Emergency Responders and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community," is designed to provide deaf and hard of hearing (including deaf, deaf-blind, hard of hearing, late-deafened and other individuals with hearing loss) and emergency responders with the basic skills they need to communicate with each other in the event of emergencies such as terrorist attacks and natural and biological disasters. The course will also instruct participants how to respond to a variety of emergency situations. Because this course is geared toward an entry-level audience and its framework is one of problem solving and small-group work, the ideal participant to instructor ratio is 20:1.

Key members of community planning teams (i.e., local and appropriate state and federal officials) will also benefit from this course, especially in developing or strengthening current emergency plans to communicate with people who have a hearing loss.

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