Washington, DC — A summary of the findings from the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (Wireless RERC) survey on emergency communications for those with hearing loss reveals that television broadcasts were most commonly used to receive and verify public alerts.

The survey, conducted October 2010-January 2011, focused on two aspects of emergency communications: Contacting 9-1-1 emergency services, and receiving and verifying public alerts, such as weather advisories. The survey included those with hearing loss, as well as those who identified themselves as having other disabilities.

According to survey respondents who identified themselves as deaf, 33% used television broadcasts to receive public alerts and 21% used television to verify public alerts.

The responders also identified e-mail and text messaging as commonly utilized, with 30% of responders receiving initial alert information by email and 19% by text messaging.

For verifying alerts, respondents often consulted Internet news (15%) and used direct observation (14%) for verifying alert information, which was more than e-mail (13%) or text messages (9%).

Overall, survey findings (including those who were not deaf) indicate that 63% of respondents with disabilities use social media. Desktop and laptop platforms are the most commonly used devices for accessing social media, with 41% and 31% of respondents, respectively, using these platforms. Cell phones are the least commonly used platforms for accessing social media, cited by 22% of respondents with disabilities.

One-fourth of respondents use more than one type of device (eg, desktop and laptop, laptop and cell phone) to access social media, and a small percentage access social media using all three types of devices.

SOURCE: Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center