Emergency Preparedness Practices: Is the Deaf Community Prepared?
A disaster can strike at a moment’s notice. In dire situations, communicating with deaf, hard of hearing, or non-native English speakers during an emergency is oftentimes an afterthought. Deafness should not impact one’s ability to make critical decisions about personal safety, yet traditional emergency alert practices often neglect to provide adequate services. To combat this issue, preparations must be made in advance to provide service for those in the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities. When an emergency is declared, it’s best to already have a plan lined up for communication efforts, including reliable interpreters and quality closed captioning.
The deaf community already has it rough when it comes to adequate interpretation efforts through the media. The issues they face range from un-qualified last-minute interpreters to missing words in machine-translated closed captioning. It’s vital in a state of an emergency that every single individual can make an informed decision about their safety. This begins with a reliable lineup of qualified American Sign Language interpreters for all televised emergency announcements. Staffing qualified, highly-trained American Sign Language Interpreters is not only professional but extremely important to deaf communities everywhere. In an emergency press conference, statement, or address, there should always be a backup of multiple interpreters on hand in case one is unavailable. Anything less than this is unacceptable.
Machine translated closed captioning does not register context or word emphasis, it just types what it registers. At the moment, there’s a lot that can be done to improve the closed caption capabilities for all media content. But in a state of an emergency, all videos should provide quality closed captioning for those who require it. Nonsense words and transcription errors on official government media content and news reports are no longer acceptable. Although it’s the 21st century, there is still a long way to go in providing quality captioning, but small steps are being taken in the right direction.
When it comes to emergency preparedness, there’s a lot that can still be done to ensure the deaf community is as prepared and informed as others. With a lineup of reliable, qualified interpreters and more efforts to provide accurate closed captioning on all news platforms, we can steer the conversation to incorporating more individualized ways of communicating, like video remote interpretation. If you’re in need of quality translation or interpretation skills, contact Akorbi to see what we can offer you. We staff American Sign Language interpreters for a variety of services, simply call us at 1-877-425-6724 or visit our website today!