Open Letter from NAD – Hurricane Sandy
NAD, State Assocs., DHHIG Commend NYC, Maryland, and Massachusetts For Hurricane Sandy Communication Access
The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) along with its state association affiliates in the affected areas, and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Government (DHHIG) join together to applaud government entities that provided qualified, expert American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters and captioning of emergency announcements in the course of preparing for Hurricane Sandy.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick all held press conferences with highly qualified sign language interpreters which made it possible to fully share important information essential to preparing for Hurricane Sandy in their respective areas. Others may have also done the same and this is not intended to be comprehensive but to thank every government official and agency that provided and made visible on television screens both qualified American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters and captioning to make the emergency information about Hurricane Sandy available to 48 million deaf and hard of hearing people in the country.
“In events of devastating natural disasters, too often steps are not taken to remove communication barriers that stand in the way of sharing emergency information to everyone. However, these government officials and leaders provided full communication access. We recognize and thank the excellent efforts at sharing all information in all necessary formats and modes,” said DHHIG President Steven Gagnon.
The provision of ASL interpreting is absolutely critical in emergencies where deaf and hard of hearing individuals, whose first language is ASL, need to obtain essential information in dire circumstances. In addition, captioning services are equally and absolutely necessary in such emergency situations for deaf and hard of hearing individuals who require visual access to spoken English instructions.
“The NAD and its state affiliates, and DHHIG jointly praise all those who have made it possible for our constituents to gain the necessary information to be prepared for and safe during onset of Hurricane Sandy and during the post-disaster recovery efforts. Such accessible information can saves numerous lives and is critical to helping those affected by the disaster take appropriate steps towards safety, shelter, and full recovery. We urge other local and state governments, as well as Federal agencies to follow the lead of these efforts and incorporate sign language interpreters in sharing critical messages with their respective communities in their emergency preparedness plans,” said NAD President Christopher Wagner.