UA researchers study how to improve tornado warnings for blind and deaf

Updated: Dec. 11, 2017 at 10:40 PM CST
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TUSCALOOSA, AL (AP) - University of Alabama researchers are studying how they can improve Tornado warnings for the blind and deaf.

UA researchers plan to interview deaf and blind communities not just in Alabama but throughout the Southeast region to better understand their needs.

In the meantime, they've got an idea on how they can help them better understand tornado warnings issued by the National Weather Service.

"You take the emergency weather broadcast and the deaf interpreter then you come up with the ASL emergency weather live stream," said Darrin Griffin.

Deaf Advocate and UA Communications professor Darrin Griffin would like to take this concept to the air waves and internet.

"With the meteorologist and ASL interpreter on the screen," said Griffin.

He said research shows there's a big communication gap for many deaf people and tornado warnings.

"If they live alone and they work alone, they need access to information and a lot what happens in emergencies they can see something going on but they are not getting the message.  A lot of times broadcasts are happening very fast, a tornado is happening very fast, we often don't have much lee time so that's once place where that communication channel gets cut out," said Griffin.

During major natural disasters in big cities you'll see,

"The Governor or mayor will be up on the stage and they'll be sign language interpreter next to them that's a very effective method to communicating with the deaf," said Griffin.

In the next two years, they want to build technology to have live stream interpreting, during emergencies, available in various cities and locations across the country.

"They understand how to communicate with a large deaf community more effectively," said Griffin.

UA researchers received a $250,000 gr ant to help pay for this study.

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