ClearCaptions announced the launch of its new emergency alert system feature, a solution designed to reach seniors and individuals who are hard of hearing and may not receive emergency alerts through other channels.
This new feature uses bright flashing lights and loud alerts to deliver text-based emergency weather notifications from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), according to the company. These FEMA alerts are connected to the customers’ home addresses and deliver timely warnings of nearby weather-related emergencies directly to their ClearCaptions Phones, bridging a critical gap in existing emergency alert infrastructure.
According to research that evaluated weather-related incidents in the past 15 years, there was a 10% difference in lives saved when compared to the same period prior to the launch of FEMA’s emergency alert system (IPAWS) in 2006. Additionally, FEMA’s Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system has been used more than 70,000 times to warn the public about dangerous weather and other critical situations.
“Hard of hearing individuals, especially those who are seniors, have less access to something we all take for granted – the ability to receive and understand emergency alerts. Since they are hard of hearing, they cannot rely on typical weather radios that use sounds and audio messaging. They are also less likely to have a mobile phone, which is the primary source of text-based messaging. We are filling a long-overdue need for people with varying degrees of hearing loss,” says Robert Rae, ClearCaptions’ CEO. “Our solution uses our existing in-home devices, which were designed to overcome hearing difficulties through bright lights, loud sounds and large, easy to read captioned messaging designed for our senior customers. This new feature provides functional equivalency to the emergency alert services that hearing people receive. We firmly believe this should become an industry standard, enabling equal access to life-saving information for all.”
This new feature brings connectivity and security to those who are underserved by existing emergency alert systems, the company says. ClearCaptions serves more than 100,000 hard of hearing customers—most of them seniors and over the age of 75. Studies have shown that this group is less likely to adopt mobile phones that typically have the emergency alert feature.
“We are working to deliver the option of these alerts to all of our customers over the next year,” says Rae. “For now, we have made it available to approximately 1/3 of our customers.”