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March 15, 2012

New American Sign Language Videos will Help Deaf, Hard of Hearing Prepare for Disasters
IEMA, Illinois Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission Partner to Make Disaster Preparedness Information Accessible

SPRINGFIELD – Information about how to prepare for emergencies is now more accessible for people who are deaf and hard of hearing.  The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and the Illinois Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission (IDHHC) today announced a new series of videos that explains disaster preparedness measures using American Sign Language (ASL) and is fully captioned.

The 11-segment video series covers such topics as how to make a household emergency plan, building an emergency supply kit, planning for evacuations and sheltering in place, and emergency planning for people with disabilities and functional needs.  The videos are based on an emergency planning brochure developed by the Illinois Terrorism Task Force (ITTF). 

“We want to make emergency preparedness information available to all Illinois citizens,” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken.  “Our Ready Illinois website is a one-stop shop for preparedness information that can be translated into six languages and increased in font size to aid the vision impaired.  Now we can also offer crucial emergency preparedness information to the deaf and hard of hearing.”

Monken said the ITTF hopes to partner in the future with the IDHHC to develop additional videos on other preparedness topics.

ASL is a natural, visual, non-spoken language extensively used within and among the deaf community.  Many people do not realize that ASL is separate and distinct from the English language.  It is vital for the deaf and hard of hearing communities whose native language is ASL to have equal access to such important information.

“These videos not only provide valuable information about how each family should prepare but also encourage people to get involved in their own communities,” said IDHHC Director John Miller, who presents the video series in ASL.  “Deaf and hard of hearing individuals are part of each and every community.  Together we prepare and together we can help to make a difference!”

Miller noted that the videos do not contain state-specific content, so the commission will encourage other states to use the videos to inform deaf and hard of hearing populations about emergency preparedness.

The video series was produced by the University of Illinois at Springfield.  The ITTF provided nearly $1,000 for production costs.  The videos can be accessed on the Ready Illinois website at www.Ready.Illinois.gov and on the IDHHC website at www.idhhc.illinois.gov



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