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The Canadian Hearing Society announced today the launch of an Emergency Accessibility Toolkit for effective, barrier-free, communications. The Toolkit establishes best practices to help broadcasters communicate with individuals who are Deaf or hard of hearing during natural disasters and other emergencies. The launch coincides with Global Accessibility Awareness Day (May 16, 2019) and National Access Awareness Week (May 26, 2019 – June 1, 2019).

Canadian radio and television broadcasters are required to air public safety alerts and announcements, which can include a loud, attention grabbing signal. However, this sound-based emergency alert solution puts Deaf and hard of hearing Canadians at risk. The Canadian Hearing Society encourages and supports governments and broadcasters to adopt its recommendations and best practices, ensuring staff are trained on how to use the Emergency Accessibility Toolkit. 

“The Emergency Accessibility Toolkit will significantly improve broadcasters’ and governments’ ability to communicate effectively with Deaf and hard of hearing individuals during natural disasters and other emergencies. The Canadian Hearing Society is excited and proud to have developed this innovative, emergency alert solution.” said Julia Dumanian, President and CEO of the Canadian Hearing Society.

The Toolkit, which was developed through a grant from the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund, includes up-to-date and accessible English, French, American Sign Language (ASL) and Langue des Signes Quebecoise (LSQ) resources, best practice guidelines, training strategies and resources for provincial and federal governments, emergency service organizations and broadcasters.

The Toolkit was developed with the help of outside consultants. DLR Consulting was commissioned to conduct research into issues that impact Deaf and hard of hearing communities during disasters; events where information is not centralized but released by voluntary, government and emergency management organizations. 

The research identified gaps and communication barriers in current standard broadcast practices. With deeper understanding, the Canadian Hearing Society and DLR Consulting were able to draft practical recommendations and best practices including development of a user-friendly Toolkit for broadcasters, emergency services and governments.

To access the Toolkit, please visit: www.chs.ca/aec


About the Canadian Hearing Society

Trusted since 1940, the Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) provides industry-leading products, programs and services to people who are Deaf and hard of hearing to ensure barrier-free communication access and increased quality of life. As the largest independent, registered non-profit organization of its kind in Canada, CHS experts advise other organizations and all levels of government on creating more accessible environments. To learn more, visit www.chs.ca.