Fort Worth launches partnership to send emergency alerts to deaf, vision-impaired
FORT WORTH, Feb 15, 2013 (Fort Worth Star-Telegram - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
People with hearing and vision impairments have a new means of receiving emergency alerts from the city, under a partnership announced Thursday between Fort Worth and Deaf Link.
Anyone living in a Fort Worth ZIP code can sign up at www.ftwahas.deaflink.com to receive text and email alerts on emergencies such as severe weather, train derailments, industrial vehicle accidents and chemical fires, the city and Deaf Link said.
The service is free, and residents don't have to demonstrate an impairment to sign up for it.
The service delivers messages via video-capable mobile devices such as smartphones and iPads, and by computer.
The Accessible Hazard Alert System would send the alerts whenever outdoor warning sirens are activated for national, state, manmade or weather emergencies.
The messages would be in American Sign Language, English and captioned text, and can be downloaded to Braille readers.
Juan Ortiz, the city's emergency management coordinator, said the partners are also interested in having Spanish-translated alerts and working with a partner that could send alerts via landline telephone to people who don't have text message and email access.
Mayor Betsy Price estimated that the city has 20,800 residents with hearing impairments and 14,500 with vision impairments.
"Public safety is one of our No. 1 concerns in Fort Worth," Price said. "It should be offered at the same level to all of our citizens."
Kay Chiodo, CEO of Deaf Link, a San Antonio provider of communications access services, said hearing- and vision-impaired people have "waited a long, long time" for the service.
The partners tested the service in January, and it's up and running, Ortiz said.
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