The Weather Ready Nation Falling On Deaf Ears:  Reaching Out to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Trevor Boucher, NWA, Buda, TX
Brek Bolton, KSTU - Salt Lake City, Utah

According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, in 2011 ~48 million people in the United States suffered from a “significant” hearing loss. 48 million people who may only be able to hear out of one ear, may require the use of a hearing aid, or may not have any hearing at all. That number alone is astounding as it makes up 15% of the total population!

What implications does this have on the weather enterprise? What about weather notifications? The needs of the Deaf and hard of hearing are not always apparent to the hearing community because of how commonplace it is to rely on auditory notifications such as phone ringers, car alarms, storms sirens, weather radio alarms and others. It’s difficult to imagine how our lives would be affected by no longer having these sounds to rely upon. However, this is the everyday life of someone with full functional deafness.

This is where Weather Ready Nation concepts can be woven into the hearing loss community. By actively pursuing hearing loss organizations across the country as Weather Ready Nation Ambassadors, we can begin to better understand and serve the needs of those with varying types of hearing loss. By making a concerted effort to incorporate Weather Ready Nation concepts to state schools for the Deaf, incorporating simple ASL into live severe weather broadcasts, and pursuing Weather Ready Nation Ambassadors who provide communication access across the country, we can make sure the Weather Ready Nation initiative does indeed fall on the Deaf’s ears.

This presentation will highlight what efforts that have already been pursued by individuals in the operational and broadcast communities, provide some insight into the complexities of “big D” Deaf culture, and provide information on how to begin serving your local hearing loss community.