Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

"This is NOT a Test: Will the Nation's Emergency Alert System Deliver the President's Message to the Public?"

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Testimony of John R. Vaughn, Chairperson
National Council on Disability (NCD)

Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings,
and Emergency Management

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
U.S. House of Representatives

“This is NOT a Test: Will the Nation’s Emergency Alert System Deliver the President’s Message to the Public?”

Wednesday, September 30, 2009
2167 Rayburn House Office Building
2:00 P.M.

Ms. Chairwoman, Ranking Member Diaz-Balart, and Members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management:

On behalf of the National Council on Disability, thank you for the opportunity to provide written testimony to the Subcommittee for the hearing today. Although the Council’s recent report offers analysis and disability policy recommendations regarding the entire life cycle of a disaster, we limit our testimony here to the topic of the accessibility and effectiveness of the nation’s emergency alert system (EAS) for individuals with disabilities.


NCD is composed of 15 members, appointed by the President, with the consent of the U.S. Senate, and a staff that supports the Council’s work. The purpose of NCD is to promote policies, programs, practices, and procedures that guarantee equal opportunity for all individuals with disabilities and that empower individuals with disabilities to achieve economic self-sufficiency, independent living, and integration into all aspects of society. To accomplish this, we gather stakeholder input, review federal programs and legislation, and provide advice and recommendations to the President, Congress and government agencies. Much of this advice comes from timely reports and papers NCD releases throughout each year, such as our recently released Effective Emergency Management: Making Improvements for Communities and People with Disabilities report.

NCD’s Role in Emergency Preparedness Policy

NCD developed a keen interest in emergency preparedness policy following the September 11, 2001 attacks. Finding very little published on emergency preparedness as it pertained to the unique considerations of people with disabilities, NCD embarked on a research project that culminated in the release of a report in April 2005 entitled Saving Lives: Including People with Disabilities in Emergency Planning. The Saving Lives report brought what little research existed on the topic to the fore, pairing it with stories from individuals with disabilities about their personal experiences in times of emergencies. The report also presented a “what-if” scenario of a major hurricane striking the Gulf Coast. In the report, NCD proposed steps the federal government should take to ensure that the needs of people with disabilities be appropriately incorporated into emergency preparedness, disaster relief, and homeland security plans. Hurricane Katrina struck just four months after the report’s release.

Subsequent to issuing Saving Lives, NCD issued two other evaluations. In July 2006, NCD released a paper titled, The Needs of People with Psychiatric Disabilities During and After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita: Position Paper and Recommendations. In August 2006, NCD issued The Impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita: A Look Back and Remaining Challenges. In both papers, like the earlier report, while the focus is on the emergency preparedness and response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, many of the problems addressed are systemic in nature and were not caused solely by the hurricanes.

In 2006 the Homeland Security Appropriations bill’s Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act (H.R. 5441) charged the FEMA Administrator to work with NCD on specific tasks. These tasks involved: appointing a Disability Coordinator; interacting with stakeholders regarding emergency planning requirements and relief efforts in case of disaster; revising and updating guidelines for government disaster emergency preparedness; evaluating a national training program to implement the national preparedness goal; assessing the Nation’s prevention capabilities; identifying and sharing best practices; coordinating and maintaining a National Disaster Housing Strategy; developing accessibility guidelines for communications and programs in, shelters, and recovery centers; and, helping all levels of government in the planning of evacuation facilities that house people with disabilities.

Based on its ongoing policy and research work in the area of homeland security, NCD identified a major gap in the government’s knowledge base. That gap involves the availability and use of effective practices for community preparedness and response to the needs of people with disabilities in all types of disasters. In 2008, NCD began to review the spectrum of available studies and defined a set of best and promising practices for emergency management across the life cycle of disasters (preparedness, response, recovery, mitigation) and geographic areas (urban to rural locations). In addition, NCD collected more information about promising practices from emergency management presentations, a public consultation, and public testimony received in writing and at Council meetings held throughout the country. On August 12, 2009 NCD released the report entitled Effective Emergency Management: Improving Communities for People with Disabilities at the National Citizen Corps Program annual meeting in Alexandria, VA. Since the August 12, 2009 release of that report, NCD has continued to extensively distribute the report as a resource across the country to several hundred emergency management agencies at the state and local levels.

The testimony that follows is organized into two parts. First, in response to a Committee question, NCD provides a brief description of its relationship with FEMA. Second, findings drawn directly from NCD’s August 12th report Effective Emergency Management are provided, describing emergency communications practices and programs that work.

NCD’s Relationship with FEMA

In 2008, GAO issued two reports to Congressional requesters that address the collaborations accomplished to date between FEMA and NCD. The February 2008 GAO report notes six areas under PKEMRA that require FEMA’s coordination with NCD and finds that in only two of those areas did NCD have the opportunity to provide input.[1] In that report, GAO recommended that the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Administrator of FEMA to develop a detailed set of measurable action steps, in consultation with NCD, for how FEMA would coordinate with NCD going forward.[2] To-date, this has not happened. Nine months later, in its November 2008 report, GAO reported that in most instances, FEMA continued to refrain from coordinating with NCD on its PKEMRA duties that required collaboration and lacked mechanisms or plans to affect such coordination in the future.[3]

Notwithstanding GAO’s findings regarding coordination efforts to date, several interactions between agencies on matters outside the scope of shared PKEMRA duties have been constructive and encouraging. For example, NCD has been included - at the inception - by FEMA on a Functional Needs Support Services (FNSS) working group for about the past 1.5 years. This FNSS initiative has been focusing on developing general specifications, resource guidelines, and the framework for an operational guide and curriculum for use by mass care shelters. The ultimate goal of the FNSS initiative is to expand mass care shelters’ operations to effectively support people with disabilities and special needs through the on-site provision of necessary accommodations. As a second example, NCD has been included - again, at inception- by FEMA and the American Red Cross on a Multi-Agency Shelter Assessment and Support Working Group which had its first meeting on September 24, 2009.

NCD continues to be proactive in its approach to cultivating a strong working relationship with FEMA and sees a number of opportunities for a positive relationship with FEMA. Administrator Fugate has stated his commitment to ensuring appropriate attention to disability concerns within the work of his agency, and NCD is excited to pursue our agencies’ collaboration toward this end. In addition, this summer, Marcie Roth, a national leader from the disability community, joined FEMA as a Senior Advisor for Disability Issues. We believe our established, constructive relationship with Ms. Roth and her expertise and history of involvement in emergency preparedness of people with disabilities will create another inroad for strengthening our communications with FEMA going forward. Although the documented relationship between FEMA and NCD on PKEMRA duties has not been optimal in the past, NCD remains optimistic for a positive and collaborative relationship with FEMA, as mandated under the legislation.

Emergency Communications and People with Disabilities

Receipt of vital, timely information is absolutely imperative to an individual’s disaster preparedness. Regrettably, a number of barriers impede the ability of people with many kinds of disabilities to receive critical emergency information in a time and manner that enables effective preparations to be made. The inadequacy of the delivery of emergency communications to people with disabilities is well supported by research and the numerous personal accounts from individuals across the country from whom NCD has heard over the last several years.

Warning systems, which are crucial before or during the onset of the response phase, may vary in their effectiveness for the general public, particularly among people with disabilities. Providing an appropriate warning that is clearly understood (and then correctly followed) largely depends on the communication needs of the receiver. People with disabilities make up an increasingly broad and diverse community, and communication needs differ depending on individual circumstances. People who may have special communication needs for disaster warning messages include people who are deaf, deaf-blind, blind, or visually-impaired; the frail elderly; and those with cognitive disabilities.

Dennis Mileti, former Director of the Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder, has described seven steps that people tend to go through when they receive a warning,[4] which help structure an explanation of the many barriers people with disabilities face regarding emergency communications.

“Hearing” the Warning

The first step involves “hearing” the message. The existing and decentralized warning system in the United States, though offering extensive means for warning dissemination, largely relies on audible (possibly supplemented by visual) messages that are often transmitted through an intermediary. For many deaf and hard of hearing individuals, audible-only inclement weather warnings or Civil Defense sirens go unheard. Most disaster warnings are only broadcast via conventional media methods, so to the extent that conventional media remain inaccessible to people with hearing and vision disabilities, emergency information broadcast over them does as well. Examples of conventional media accessibility barriers include audible-only weather warning systems and the absence of closed-captioning during television weather warnings.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) continues to remind broadcasters of the regulations that must be met to assist people with disabilities during times of emergency and meets regularly with the disability community to discuss how emergency warnings might be improved. Although real-time captioning of unscripted material (e.g., breaking news, weather reports) is mandated by the FCC, compliance continues to be a concern. Stations report a shortage of closed captioners, high costs for captioning services, and a lack of availability of captioners during an emergency.

Many blind or visually-impaired individuals are relying increasingly on television to meet communication needs, which has important implications in times of disaster. The FCC Media Security and Reliability Council is working with the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) to develop standards to address the needs of individuals with vision loss during times of disasters. In the current absence of standards, on-air meteorologists often assume that consumers have good vision and can see the radar images, failing to accompany an emergency weather broadcast with proper audio cues as to location or trajectory. Recent technologies that project a storm’s path, location, and time may be useful, but only if they are offered through audible means as well as through visual graphics.

For individuals who are deaf-blind, receipt of an emergency message often involves diverse communication needs. Large-print and tactile cues are preferred when available. Communication with individuals who are deaf-blind can range from sign language near the person’s face to sign language in the palm to words written on the palm with a finger. The universal symbol for an emergency is a tactile symbol “X,” “drawn” on the back of the deaf-blind individual by an individual who is alerting him or her. This symbol is understood to mean that an emergency has occurred and that it is imperative for the individual receiving the message to follow directions and not ask questions. However, few if any preparedness materials or training workshops include this information.

Friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers are all important conduits for information dissemination, as well. By simply adding a few sentences, warning messages could include instructions for neighbors and family members to support people with disabilities.[5] One way to accomplish this is by encouraging social networks to assist people with disabilities during disasters. Another step could be taken by organizing through work units, neighborhood associations or watches, or community organizations. Participants in social networks should know the location, contact information, and evacuation instructions for people with disabilities in their neighborhoods.[6] This idea is similar to the buddy system, in which an individual plans with another person to initiate protective action upon receipt of a warning.

Credibility of the Warning

The second step people go through when they receive a warning involves the recipient believing that the message is credible. A number of barriers interfere with credibility for people with disabilities. Cultural and language differences are common barriers. Messages might not be transmitted across culturally diverse communities because of segregation, lack of trust, and historic patterns of intergroup conflict. Disseminating information into a culture that uses another language is particularly problematic; for example, limited access to or abilities to use American Sign Language (ASL) can lead to misinformation or no information dissemination at all. Furthermore, many authorities have little credibility in the disability community, owing in part to a history of circumventing the disability community in planning for disasters.

Experts contend that the best way to extend warnings is through the use of people who are as similar to the target population as possible, using well-established officials familiar to the community to enhance credibility.[7] Emergency management professionals can build their credibility among the disability community by involving people with disabilities in all stages of disaster response; this also helps achieve effective response in the community during times of disaster. Another strategy is to use public service announcements (PSAs) and warning messages disseminated by people who are known and trusted in the disability community.

Confirming the Warning

The third step is social confirmation – a warning recipient (assuming receipt) who decides that a threat does in fact exist. People tend to want to confirm their attitudes, beliefs, and opinions to ascertain that they are correct. Such behavior could be seen with Hurricane Katrina as local residents talked to each other about the seriousness of the event and whether to evacuate. For many, the decision was delayed until an official evacuation was ordered by city and state officials. For thousands of people who lacked transportation or needed accommodation, it was too late. And the first two steps must have already occurred. If warning transmission is delayed or the warning is not received, social confirmation is delayed even further, thereby increasing the danger. Some people with disabilities require additional time to respond to an emergency; therefore, emergency managers, meteorologists, and members of the media need to provide warnings at the earliest possible moment to better accommodate these individuals.

Personalizing the Warning

The fourth step is personalization of the warning message. Such personalization may not occur if people believe the threat is not as serious as predicted or if previous experience suggests that this one will not be as bad as what they have already endured. A related aspect of the fourth step is confirming that others are heeding warning messages. Being able to see, hear, or understand that other people are taking shelter increases the likelihood that a person will take action. For people with sensory, cognitive, or psychiatric disabilities, taking shelter may be further delayed if confirmatory cues are not present. Solutions include accessible Public Service Announcements (PSAs) that show people with disabilities taking protective action, outreach efforts by people with disabilities or advocacy organizations, and direct appeals to people with disabilities, their families and friends, and service organizations.

Risk Assessment

The fifth step is when people decide whether or not protective action is necessary. Making a decision thus depends on understanding the information and risk assessments presented to the public. Helping people who are at risk understand the need for protective action under conditions of uncertainty is problematic for the public in general. Because of the challenges associated with the multiple steps that occur in the warning process for some people with disabilities, the desired response may be further delayed.

Feasibility of Protective Action

The sixth step may well be the most important one for people with disabilities. In this step, those who are at risk determine whether protective action is feasible. As seen in east coast hurricanes, some people with disabilities do not evacuate if they believe that shelters are not ready for them or if a partner in the preplanned buddy system is out of town.[8] Without accessible transportation, people may not be able to. With limited mobility, people may not be able to shelter in place. In the absence of appropriate places to shelter (such as an accessible safe room), lives may be lost. Taking Action

Taking Action

The final step people often go through when receiving a warning is to determine what action to take and then to take it. This step often depends on effective training and education so that people can assess their options and choose the most expedient and effective route. For some people with cognitive or psychiatric disabilities, this may be more difficult. Warnings that do not explain options in ways that inspire action fail to achieve the intent of the effort. Although much research remains needed in this area, the current status of warnings for people with disabilities seems woefully inadequate.

Mapping out Possible Solutions

Diversity and Redundancy of Warnings

Warning messages are the single most effective way to alert people to an impending risk. However, jurisdictions fail to develop and disseminate warning messages that are adapted to or meet the needs of people with disabilities. A key principle to improve warning messages is to diversify and offer redundant, affordable, and accessible formats. Another key principle is to distribute warning messages through trusted, credible sources.

Some strategies that can enhance success in this area include the following:[9]

  • Draft warning messages for specific, anticipated events and vet them with disability organizations and people with disabilities to see if they are effective.
  • Develop various means for disseminating warning messages, including media, texting, email, sirens of various kinds, pagers, highway signage, closed captioning, live sign language interpretation, and social networking sites. Ensure that audio, tactile, and written warnings are issued to maximize distribution. Increase the number and type of accessible formats. Ensure that warning messages are available in several formats for those with various levels of comprehension.
  • Require that any federal funding that supports the purchase of warning systems include diverse means to alert the entire public, particularly those with disabilities.
  • Disseminate warning messages through trusted individuals and organizations, which can include families, friends, guardians/caregivers, advocates, agencies, neighbors, workplaces, civic organizations, and faith-based communities. Doing so leverages the power of social networks to influence those at risk and links people in need to those with resources to help. Credible sources enhance the chance that warning messages will be heeded.
  • Train broadcast and warning media outlets on the importance of diversifying messages and the need to vary warning messages so that people with various levels of literacy comprehension and aptitude can understand the message.
  • Train meteorologists on which population segments need special consideration during an event. This includes ensuring that meteorologists face the television camera for those who read lips and that they use direct and specific references to hazards and locations. Also, be sure to check that graphics, closed captioning, and interpretation are clearly visible to those who are attempting to get information.
  • Provide enhanced 9-1-1 or reverse 9-1-1 systems that are compatible with TDDs.
  • Verify that warning messages reflect cultural and linguistic diversity within the disability community. Written and audio messages should be in the languages understood and used locally.
  • Follow FCC policies when it comes to providing real-time captioning or sign language interpretation. Ensure that captioning includes all emergency information, not just what the broadcaster or meteorologist is saying.
  • Involve people with disabilities and disability organizations in issuing warning messages.
  • Secure funding to provide weather alert radios with strobe, audio, and vibrator capabilities, along with adaptors, for use in vehicles. Educate the disability community, particularly those who are deaf or hard of hearing, on the need to use these adapted devices.
  • Implement alternative warning systems or devices in public locations, such as parks, hospitals, clinics, schools, libraries, and other facilities.
  • Require that alternative warning systems or devices be used in workplaces and privately owned establishments, such as malls, grocery stores, and other similar locations.

Promising New Technologies

Despite the prevalence of accessibility barriers in conventional media, in culling research and nationwide practices during the writing of NCD’s Effective Emergency Management report, NCD discovered encouraging examples of innovative practices at the state and local levels designed to address needs of individuals with specific types of disabilities in times of disaster:

• OK-WARN: OK-WARN is “a new way for people who are deaf and hard-of-hearing to receive timely notification of weather hazards in the State of Oklahoma. The program was created to help ease the fears of individuals who are deaf and hard-of-hearing who may have difficultly receiving life-saving warnings. OK-WARN is a customized database program that sends out critical weather information to alphanumeric pagers and email addresses” (go to Participants are instantly notified when the National Weather Service issues an alert. The system attempts to deliver the message using multiple data sources.

• Access Alerts: The WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM), a division of Boston’s public broadcaster WGBH, “is uniting emergency alert providers, local information resources, telecommunications industry and public broadcasting representatives, and consumers in a collaborative effort to research and disseminate approaches to make emergency warnings accessible. This project, funded by the Department of Commerce’s Technology Opportunities Program (TOP), is addressing a most urgent need— “the one to develop and encourage adoption of standardized methods, systems and services to identify, filter and present content in ways that are meaningful to people with disabilities leading up to, during, and after emergencies” (

Adapted weather radios,[10] text messaging, and weather pagers are some examples of promising new technologies. However, while exciting new technologies may soon address many emergency communication barriers for people with disabilities, they will only effectively diminish the impediments if the individuals who need them have access to and use them. For the reason that people with disabilities are less likely to have disposable income, purchasing such items may prove challenging, and therefore concerned policymakers should not rely on the availability of these products alone to solve the problems that exist.

While benefits of many of these technologies are obvious, the prices associated with these items and their related services are not slight. Weather pagers, for instance, are a viable option for alerting deaf and hard of hearing individuals during severe weather warnings. Full-text warnings are sent to the pagers, causing a vibration and notifying the wearer that a message has been received.[11] Costs for using a weather pager include the pager itself plus a monthly service fee. And although deaf and hard of hearing taxpayers pay into the Civil Defense warning systems that alert all hearing citizens when severe weather alerts are issued, this service is not provided to the deaf and hard of hearing community. To address this issue, some municipalities have secured private funding or offer this service to deaf or hard of hearing individuals at a free or reduced cost. NCD recommends that policymakers address public funds earmarked for Civil Defense sirens and use some monies for alternative warning systems.

Ensuring Access to Emerging Technologies

In addition to the promising new technologies designed to address specific disability concerns related to emergency notification, it is equally important to ensure that emerging technologies of a broader scope, including Internet Protocol-based and video programming technologies, are accessible to people with disabilities, as well. On June 26, 2009, Congressman Edward Markey (D-MA) re-introduced legislation to address this very concern. H.R. 3101, the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009, relates to emergency communications in the following ways:

  • First, it restores video description rules and revises provisions concerning any apparatus designed to receive or display television pictures broadcast simultaneously with sound to require that such apparatuses be capable of decoding closed captioning, delivering video description, and conveying emergency information, including EAS messages, in an accessible format for blind or visually impaired individuals.
  • Second, it requires identification of methods that will be used to convey emergency information in an accessible format for blind or visually impaired individuals.

NCD supports the intent of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009 and its desired effect on the accessibility of emergency communications for people with disabilities.

As a related matter, the draft CPG 301 special needs guidance from FEMA notes the importance of making 9-1-1 systems (including reverse 9-1-1) accessible via TTY or TDD; some limitations are expected among Internet-based forms of TRS.[12] NCD encourages the adoption of the FEMA CPG 301 recommendation to “designate an alternative 9-1-1 PSAP [public safety answering point] that is more than 200 miles away to answer calls when the primary and secondary PSAPs are disabled.”

Enforcement of FCC Regulations

Although policies have the potential to inform, mandate, and foster change, the gap between the ideas or concepts in a policy and achieving the intended result can be significant. An example of a non-emergency-management agency attempting to address disability-related issues in disasters can be seen in FCC policies. FCC rules generally require that the national emergency alert system (EAS) use both visual and aural alert methods. According to Section 79.2 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, emergency information provided in the audio portion of the programming must be made accessible using closed captioning or other methods of visual presentation, such as open captioning, crawls, or scrolls that appear on the screen during emergencies. Emergencies have been broadened to include disasters, severe weather, civil disorders, and even school closings (FCC 2006). Other solutions include putting a written message on the screen, posting a map, or directly tracing the evacuation route.

According to an earlier Public Notice, FCC has received complaints from residents in several states regarding noncompliance (FCC 2001). Since 2003, the FCC has been making an effort to more aggressively monitor the accessibility of emergency notifications. As a result, following the 2003 California wildfires, three broadcasters were fined for noncompliance. In 2004, another broadcaster was fined for not complying during a severe weather event in Washington, D.C. Similar fines have been charged against broadcasters over the past several years. Unfortunately, compliance is so rare that the FCC decided to issue another Public Notice in both 2001 and 2006 to remind broadcasters of the regulation (FCC 2006). Although the FCC seems determined to increase compliance, it has received a number of complaints of noncompliance since the last Public Notice (NCD 2005). In short, policies can provide the potential for change, but enforcement of compliance is key.[13]

Incorporating Disability Considerations into the National Level Exercises

Perhaps, one of the most practical and thorough ways to determine the functional status of the nation’s emergency alert and communications system in relation to people with disabilities is to put it to the test. It could be very worthwhile to directly include people with disabilities into a National Level Exercise (NLE). More specifically, an NLE could be programmed to test the implementation and effectiveness of discrete emergency communication protocols, messaging, accessibility of information, etc. As it stands now, government learns about problems in the area of emergency communications somewhat piecemeal throughout sporadic reports from state and local entities (e.g., State Emergency Communication Commissions). At best, this provides a spotty picture. Designing a National Level Exercise to test emergency communication system(s) out, relying on people with disabilities as NLE participants, could likely provide a much more accurate and complete picture of the nation’s readiness in this regard.


Successfully addressing the needs of people with disabilities in emergency contexts requires consideration of multiple and diverse means of disseminating emergency warnings. Diversifying warnings benefits people without disabilities, too. The challenges faced by persons with disabilities, seniors, and residents of low-income households in disaster-threat situations often demonstrate consider overlap.

Given contemporary technological and social mores, utilizing a combination of audio alerts, text messages, Internet information, social networking, well-written warning messages, and well-trained message communicators not only ensures successful receipt of warning messages across varied communication needs, it makes good policy sense in view of individual’s varying communication habits and preferences.

On behalf of the Members of NCD, thank you again for the opportunity to contribute this written testimony to the record.


[1] Government Accountability Office, “National Disaster Response: FEMA Should Take Action to Improve Capacity and Coordination between Government and Voluntary Sectors” (February 2008), p. 29.

[2] Id, at 39.

[3] Government Accountability Office, “Actions Taken to Implement the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006” (November 2008).

[4] Lindell, M., & Perry, R. (2004). Communicating risk to multiethnic communities. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage; Mileti, D. (1999). Disasters by design: A reassessment of natural disasters in the United States. Washington DC: Joseph Henry Press; Mileti, D., & Sorenson, J. (1990). Communication of emergency public warnings: A social science perspective and state-of-the-art assessment. Oak Ridge, TN: Oak Ridge National Laboratory and U.S. Department of Energy.

[5] Daley, W. R., Brown, S., Archer, P., Kruger, E., Jordan, F., Batts, D., et al. (2005). Risk of tornado-related death and injury in Oklahoma, May 3, 1999. American Journal of Epidemiology, 161(2), 1144–1150.

[6] Litman, T. (2006). Lessons from Katrina and Rita: What major disasters can teach transportation planners. Journal of Transportation Engineering, 132(1), 11–18.

[7] Fothergill, A., Maestas, E., & Darlington, J. (1999). Race, ethnicity, and disasters in the United States. Disasters, 23(2), 156–173.

[8] van Willigen, M., Edwards, T., Edwards, B., & Hessee, S. (2002). Riding out the storm: Experiences of the physically disabled during hurricanes Bonnie, Dennis, and Floyd. Natural Hazards Review, 3(3), 98–106.

[9] For the complete list of warning message strategies, see NCD, Effective Emergency Management (2009), p. 272-274

[10] Special needs weather radios are ideal for someone with hearing loss. The receiver includes a strobe light as well as an auditory signal that alerts a deaf or heard of hearing person; a liquid crystal display that shows what type of watch, warning, or advisory has been issued, along with duration of watch or warning; and a pillow vibrator/bed shaker that awakens the person from sleep in case of a local weather warning. See Wood, V. T., & Weisman, R. A. (2003). A hole in the weather warning system. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 84(2), 187–194.

[11] Wood, V. T., & Weisman, R. A. (2003). A hole in the weather warning system. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 84(2), 187–194.

[12] Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). (2009). FEMA in focus: Where FEMA is now, and where FEMA is going (Twitter news release). Retrieved February 20, 2009, from

[13] NCD made a number of FCC-specific recommendations in its Effective Emergency Management report. See p. 336-338.

An official website of the National Council on Disability