Inderscience Publishers

Accessibility of emergency communications to deaf citizens

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Since 2001, the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Technologies (Wireless RERC) has taken an active role in promoting accessibility of emergency alerting systems for Americans with disabilities. Among federal government initiatives is a new rule that will take effect in 2010, requiring that emergency alerts be sent using Short Messaging Service (SMS) from all cell phone towers in areas affected by emergencies. This paper shares consumer input on wireless emergency communication via analysis of data gathered through the Survey of User Needs (SUNs) conducted by the Wireless RERC since 2001 and through focus groups conducted with deaf individuals.

Keywords: wireless technologies, deafness, emergency alerts, focus groups, accessibility, emergency communications, emergency management, disabilities, deaf people, short messaging service, SMS alerts, cell phones, mobile phones

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