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Accessible Emergency Communication Information for Broadcasters

Best Practices

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) has best practice guidelines that are applicable to Canadian broadcasters. We recommend these practices be implemented by Canadian media outlets in order to provide accessible information for people who are Deaf and hard of hearing.  Communications on television must be captioned and sign language interpreting must be provided by professional interpreters with accreditation and training to deal with emergency management terminology and processes.  As part of this research project we have produced video clips that highlight the view of the interpreter should include the public official in the same view and the captioning is also available in the same view.



The goal of any broadcast in the context of an emergency is to reach the broadest audience, and based on the findings of this BAF pilot test, the use of qualified Deaf-hearing teams should be used as the first choice.  This requires broadcasters to have worked out processes to ensure they are able to secure interpreters quickly in the case of an emergency, whether providing remote or in-studio interpreting.

Improving Access to Emergency Information Online

As part of this Canadian project, we were able to contrast two different options for interpreting access.  One involves the use of a team of Deaf-hearing interpreters and one is a hearing interpreter.  The pilot material was then assessed by a panel of Canadian and international experts in the area of interpretation and television access. The recommendation was clearly to use Deaf-hearing teams who have been trained for emergency broadcast work.  If such a team is unavailable, then the second choice is to use a hearing interpreter, however the evidence is clear that the Deaf-hearing team provide the highest level of information access for the broadest sector of the Deaf community.




Two other examples show how the USA and Australia are providing interpretation during emergencies.

US example: Hurricane Harvey, August 28, 2017


Australia example: Out of control fire in South West Wales


Finally, we recommend that all public broadcasters examine their accessibility policies and practices, and put in place contracts with service providers so that in the case of an emergency sign language interpreters and captioning services are available without delay.

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