Pilot Radio Project Targets Alerts for the Deaf
The R&D arm of NPR is
involved in a pilot project to deliver emergency alerts to deaf and
hard-of-hearing people in several Gulf states.
Emergency Management Agency announced the cooperative project with NPR Labs. “Twenty-five NPR-affiliated
public radio stations throughout Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and
Texas agreed to participate in the pilot project to transmit emergency alert
messages, such as weather alerts, to 475 individuals who are deaf or
hard-of-hearing in the stations’ listening areas to determine how effectively
the messages are being sent and received,” FEMA stated.
That region was chosen because of its often-extreme weather conditions. The
announcement was made by Damon Penn, assistant administrator for FEMA’s
National Continuity Programs Directorate, and Mike Starling, executive director
of NPR Labs. The initiative is part of a contract with the Department of
Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate and FEMA’s National
The stations will receive
alert messages from FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, or
IPAWS. The network operations center of the Public Radio Satellite System will
uplink the warnings to the stations; stations will broadcast the alerts to FM
Radio Data System (RDS) receivers that alert participants with a flasher. The
receivers can display the message through the receiver’s display, and users can
also connect a strobe light or bed-shaker alerting device to the receiver.
Starling stated that a goal of the program is to assure that
all individuals can be informed of emergencies even when electricity, the
Internet and other communications channels are unavailable.
FM stations participating:
Alabama: WUAL, Tuscaloosa; WBHM, Birmingham; WLRH, Huntsville;
WUSF, Tampa; WLRN, Miami; WPBI, West Palm Beach; WUFT, Gainesville; WMFE,
Orlando; WFSU, Tallahassee; WGCU, Fort Meyers; WJCT, Jacksonville; WQCS, Fort
KDAQ, Shreveport; WWNO, New Orleans; WRKF, Baton Rouge; KRVS, Lafayette
KERA, Dallas; KUHF, Houston; KETR, Commerce; KUT, Austin; KMBH, Harlingen;
KEDT, Corpus Christi and KVLU, Beaumont.