4.4 The Weather Ready Nation Falling On Deaf Ears: Reaching Out to the Under-served Deaf and Hard of Hearing Population

Friday, 12 June 2015: 11:15 AM
303 (Raleigh Convention Center)
Trevor Boucher, NOAA/NWS, New Braunfels, TX; and J. Saari

According to a study by Gallaudet University in 2005, roughly four out of every 1000 people are “functionally deaf,” meaning they cannot hear normal conversations. Additionally, 14% of the population of the United States suffers from some form of hearing loss ranging from partial loss in a single ear, to total deafness. That means nearly 43 million people suffer from some sort of hearing loss and may struggle to provide or receive severe weather alerts and information.

The needs of the deaf and hard of hearing are not always apparent to the hearing community because how commonplace it is to rely on auditory signals such as phone ringers, car alarms, storms sirens, and others. It's difficult to imagine how our lives would be effected by no longer having these mediums to rely upon. It is even more difficult to anticipate the challenges and considerations of someone experiencing a major weather hazard when they cannot even communicate with the hearing person next to them.

This is where Weather Ready Nation concepts can be woven into the hearing loss community. By actively pursuing the hearing loss communities across the country, we can begin to better understand and serve the needs of those with varying types of hearing loss. We can also re-evaluate some of our existing initiatives and how effective they are to this demographic (i.e. When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors). By making a concerted effort to incorporate Weather Ready Nation concepts to state schools for the Deaf, providing training to local and state organizations supporting the hearing loss community, and educating communication access partners across the country, we can make sure the Weather Ready Nation initiative does indeed fall on Deaf ears.

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