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Access to Emergency Alerts for People with Disabilities
Subject-related Research and News Articles

Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers (RERCs)

These Centers, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) support activities that lead to the development of methods, procedures and devices that will benefit individuals with disabilities or involve technology for the purposes of enhancing opportunities for meeting the needs of this segment of the population, or to address the barriers confronted by this segment of the population.

Two RERCs have a direct connection to the work of the Access Alerts Project and to the research and implementation of improved communications systems, methods, services and devices that will serve individuals with disabilities during emergencies.

RERC for Wireless Communications
Headquartered at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, in partnership with the Georgia Institute of Technology
This RERC is funded to promote equitable access to and use of wireless technologies by people with disabilities and encourage adoption of Universal Design in future generations of wireless devices and applicatio

RERC on Telecommunications Access
Headquartered at the Trace Research and Development Center, University of Wisconsin, in partnership with the Technology Access Program at Gallaudet University
The primary mission of the Telecommunications Access RERC is to advance accessibility and usability in existing and emerging telecommunications products for people with all types of disabilities. Telecommunications accessibility is addressed along all three of its major dimensions: user interface, transmission (including digitization, compression, etc.), and modality translation services (relay services, gateways, etc.).

Subject-related Research

Social Science Research: Compilation of Emergency Warning Variables
William L. Waugh, Professor of Public Administration, Georgia State University (.pdf file)

Public Hazards Communication and Education: The State of the Art
Dennis Mileti, Director, Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center, Unviersity of Colorado at Boulder (.doc file)
Bibliography: Public Hazards Communication and Education (.doc file)

Subject-related Articles

(listed chronologically, most recent first)

Bobseine, Jeb. "Students write the book on autism." Daily News Transcript (Dedham, MA). October 20, 2008
Students at the League School of Greater Boston, a school for children with autism, created a book that can help emergency preparedness and response officials assist individuals with non-verbal or non-English communication methods. The book contains numbers, pictures and symbols that can help officials assist individuals with such communication disabilities in times of need. For example, one page contains a picture of the human body allowing individuals to point to which part of their body is injured.

Quillin, Martha. "Deaf get help on weather alerts." The News and Observer (Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Chapel Hill, NC). September 2, 2008
North Carolina applies for and received funding from the Federal Emergency Management Administration to purchase and distribute weather radios that can alert people who are deaf to emergency alerts via visual, vibrating warnings.

(no author cited) "America's Emergency Network Installed in Broward County (FL)." August 7, 2008
Florida's second most populous county installs system which, working with two main newspapers' web sites, facilitates emergency management messages, advisories and other communications with residents.

Palmer, Jason. "Emergency 2.0 is coming to a website near you." NewScientistTech. Magazine issue 2654. May 2, 2008. (link to article preview, charge applies for full article text)
Outlines how social media tools are changing the way people get and share information about emergencies.

Havenstein, Heather. "LA Fire Department all 'aTwitter' over Web 2.0." Computerworld. August 3, 2007.
How one major U.S. city's fire department has implemented social networking tools.

Simerman, John. "California Firm Tracks Disabled in Case of Emergency." Contra Conta Times (California). July 30, 2007.
San Ramon Valley firefighters teams with an internet company to offer a disaster registry. The article discusses the pros and cons, including the charge to citizens to be registered, and the potential invasion of privacy disclosing a disability would entail.

Frank, Thomas. "Schools weigh text alerts for crises." USA Today. April 24, 2007.
In the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings, colleges explore and seek funding for emergency alert systems, including text message notices for their students and faculty. But concerns remain.

Hall, Mimi. "Report: Cities' communications still lacking. Most emergency systems incompatible." USA Today. January 3, 2007.
Article looks at the report issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security which details the lack of ineroperability, or the ability to reliably communicate by radio, of command level operations agencies and personnel in U.S. cities.

Francis, Brian. "Recommendations for action wheere a Guide Dog team is involved in an emergency situation." National Federation of the ( July 9, 2006.
Tips on how to handle a guide dog should its owner be involved in an emergency situation, includes how to proceed should the owner not be able to maintain control of the animal in a medical situation.

Egner, Jeremy. "What's the emergency? We've got spectrum!" June 12, 2006
Local public televisions stations explore using DTV bandwidth to aid community emergency training and response efforts.

Perera, David. "Missed Signals. Katrina laid bare the sorry state of emergency communications - now what?" February 1, 2006.
A comprehensive look at what failed within the communications system during hurricane Katrina, and what may be the way forward, including Internet capabilities.

Wolf, Gary. "Reinventing 911 - How a swarm of networked citizens is building a better emergency broadcast system." Wired. Issue 13.12. December 2005.
Outlines the search for a communication system to link public safety agencies, the personalities involved and the challenges and successes to date. Art Botterell, Access Alerts Working Group member and author of the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP), is featured.

Brumfield, Robert. "CoCo helps diverse devices talk to each other." eSchool News. December 15, 2005.
Virginia school district pilots program that aims to permit communication across a wide rage of devices, including cell phones, two-way radios, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and even video cameras. The CoCo network--named for the Cryptographic Overlay Mesh Protocol (COMP) on which it is based--is intended to enable better real-time communication among school administrators, staff, and emergency first responders via a secure network that uses a school system's existing communications infrastructure.

DePasquale, Ron. "Faster is better when schools spread the word." Boston Globe. December 1, 2005
Schools officials in Boston's western suburbs adopt communications systems from Connect-Ed that allow them to make hundreds, or thousands, of phone calls to parents almost instantaneously.

Davey, Monica. "Tornado Survivors Question Siren Warning System." New York Times. November 8, 2005.
In the wake of tornado, citizens and county officials weigh the efficiacy of sirens in warning residents to take action.

Doolittle, Amy. "Katrina reveals lack of resources to evacuate deaf." The Washington Times. October 6, 2005
For a community that increasingly relies on texting for information and communication, the wireless network failure during Katrina meant people had to rely on friends, families and neighbors instead when local tv and radio resources, designed for hearing people, couldn't help.

Kharif, Olga. "After chaos, changes in calling?" BusinessWeek. September 2, 2005
Satellite phone system is looked at closely as an option in the wade of Katrina phone system and wireless connection failures.