Friday, November 17, 2006

Can You Hear the Warnings?

Most of you probably know Montgomery was hit by a F-2 tornado this week. One of my readers, The Rev. Jay Croft, presented an interesting point in his comment to a post where I had mentioned the warning sirens. Rev. Jay, retired from the Episcopal Church and who is deaf, wrote
“Warning sirens? What good do they do for the 10% of the population that is deaf or hard-of-hearing? I was incensed a year or two ago when the Mayor announced, with great pride, the siren system. No concern was given for this population.”

I recalled that when we lived in Illinois, the county had initiated, I believe, a kind of reverse 911 whereby hearing-impaired individuals and others with special needs would be notified in emergencies via TTY. I pulled up a link to Gallaudet University and found a round up of various ways deaf persons might be notified ranging from pagers to a radio with a flashing strobe light and an auditory signal as well. There’s even a pillow vibrator/bed shaker, which I swear I’m going to get for my sound sleeper son when he goes away to college next year. Being the “helicopter parent” that I am, I’ve been worried about how is he going to wake up and make it up for class without me to yell at him. The Sonic Boom alarmclock and bed shaker should do the trick.

But Jay’s point is well-taken. We don’t have a very consistent way to notify this population, and more important, we hearing folks tend to have blinders on until advocates like Jay bring up another view.


Marion said...

You are right, Sheila, it is not something I thought about until our recent power outages, when I wondered how the disabled were faring.

I love the idea of the bed shaker for any student going away to school. lol

Sheila said...

We were lucky in our part of town this time, but we are no strangers to power outages either, losing power for five days during Hurrican Ivan.

I love that I came across the bed shaker. My son will probably kill me for writing about it, but that kid can sleep to past four p.m. and I am serious about my fears when he leaves home. I might even hire a wake up service. I told you I was a "helicopter parent."

Dirty Butter said...

I don't imagine the Sonic Boom alarm clock would last past one morning, as someone else in the dorm is bound to smash it against the wall, but the bed shaker sounds like a good idea LOL.

We have a fairly good sized deaf community, since we are so close to Talladega, and I don't think this has ever been addressed. Thanks for bringing it up. It may be around here that family make sure their deaf relatives are notified, as we're a very close knit community.

Sheila said...

Oh my. You are probably right. Ha. I hadn't thought about that. My son was all enthused about the idea of both of these products but he will have to share a dorm room and I had forgotten that college students can be a bit uncivilized. I know I was.

I can always count on Jay to enlighten me and I had never thought about this problem with making sure deaf folks had notice about weather dangers.

Jay Croft said...

Harris Communications, Inc. has absolutely everything you can imagine about products for deaf and hard-of-hearing folks. (No, we are not "hearing impaired.")

I have a Blackberry text pager and get the same weather warnings you see on the TV crawl.

My wife uses the alarm in the picture, but it flashes a bedside light, instead of a bed-shaker. By the way, the bed-shaker can be silent, so it shouldn't bother your son's roomates.

I use a "Big Ben" alarm clock with a built-in flashing light.

TTYs are nearly obsolete now. We use E-mails, instant messaging and pagers. So, "Reverse 911" isn't much help to us.

All TVs sold in the USA since mid-1993 have built-in close captioning. (That is, TVs with over 13 inch screen diameter.)

There are products to alert, through flashing lights, to doorbell or other signals.

We have been given so-called "weather radios" but they are useless. Also, it requires an MIT graduate to put them together. Someone who is not deaf had the bright idea that we would be sitting in front of the "weather radio" all day and night. Urg.

Evon Black, Account Manager for Sprint Relay for Alabama, and Hal Suddreth, Church of Christ minister in Birmingham, are working with officials on statewide emergency alert methods for deaf and hard of hearing persons.

Jay Croft said...

By the way, Sheila, I'm not retired from the Episcopal Church. I'm retired from my duties as Missioner for the Deaf Community in the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama. I'm still an Episcopal priest.

Three Sundays a month (including tomorrow) I drive to Mobile to serve a congregation of Deaf people. The word "retire" isn't in the Bible!

Sheila said...

Thanks Jay for the information. So many of the devices depend on technology and electricity. It's good to know folks in the state are trying to come up with a plan.

Sorry about calling you retired when it sounds like you are far from that status. Your congregation in Mobile is fortunate to have you.

Naomi said...

This was an interesting post Sheila. I could do with one of those "bed shakers" myself. Now we've altered the clocks in England, nobody feels like getting up for work on these dark Winter mornings!

Sheila said...

Yes, It always takes me a while to adjust when we change the time.

Jay Croft said...

Naomi, I am sure that similar devices are on sale in Merry Olde. There's most probably a store somewhere, similar to Potomac Technology, Harris Communications and NFSS.

The RAD (Royal Association of the Deaf) might steer you in the right direction, as would the BDA (British Deaf Association.)

Jay Croft said...

Officially I AM retired, as I've been receiving a pension from the Church Pension Fund since the beginning of this year.

But I keep busy not only with Mobile three times a month, but also with the Office of Deaf Services, DMHMR; the Deaf Advisory Committee for ADRS; The Mayor's Advisory Committee on Improved Accessibility, the Montgomery chapter of the Alabama Association of the Deaf and probably a few others I've forgotten.

The don't call me "the gadfly" for nothing!

Sheila said...

Ok Jay, I think I have it straight. You are officially retired but in reality far from it. You are like so many "retired" folks I know. You may be off the clock but still in the game. As more and more Baby Boomers retire I think we will see a boost to advocacy and community involvement in addition to second or third careers. We BBs are just the oil for the squeaky wheels of the world.