In crisis communications, we have to be aware we need to make sure we reach out to all of our audiences in the mediums they deem to be trustworthy and credible.  Whether it is going and sending a traditional press release to a newspaper or broadcast station, or whether it means updating the various updates for people to see on their social media profile sites.  Most of the time, crisis communicators list all of the audience group members they need to take into consideration, but I have to say – in all of the years of researching and taking courses / training in crisis communications – one group has not been mentioned as much as others.  This audience group is the deaf community.  How do we go about in making sure that this audience group gets the same information about an emergency or crisis like all of our other audiences?

This is where Stephanie Jo Kent comes into the limelight in this area of research and specialization.  I had the great opportunity to meet Stephanie Jo at the Crisis and Risk Doctoral Seminar at Wayne State two years ago, and I was very impressed with her level of commitment, knowledge, and expertise in the area of sign language and integrating this into emergency management and crisis communications.  She has done extensive amount of work in this area, and will be conducting some research on the use of Twitter among the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community this upcoming week when FEMA will launch its national test.  Here is the link to Stephanie’s project specifically with this research as well as what she has done in terms of looking at the impact of tornadoes within the deaf community.  Here is a great video on how TDI and FEMA (shared via Xpressive Handz) are addressing what these individuals within the deaf community need to do in preparation with the Emergency Alert System test this upcoming week:

In summary, crisis communicators have to be aware of all of the audiences they have to target and make sure they know what to do when a crisis hits.  The deaf community is one of these audience groups, and there appears to be more research and focus done in this area presently, which is great.  We need to have specialists/ researchers like Stephanie to be researching in this area to help us reach all of our citizens effectively and proactively in a crisis situation.  Keep up the great work, Stephanie!

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,

Karen