The Harris County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management (HCOHSEM), in collaboration with the Houston Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) and Sight Into Sound, have developed emergency preparedness tips for individuals who are blind or visually impaired.
The partnership is designed to ensure that the blind and visually impaired have 24/7 access to emergency preparedness information in audio formats spoken in both English and Spanish. The messages explain what to do during a flood, hurricane, power outage, or other emergency that may require residents to evacuate or shelter in place. Hurricane season for the Texas Gulf Coast began June 1st and continues until November 30th.
“Harris County understands that persons who are blind or visually impaired need 24/7 access to life-saving information when disasters strike. This partnership is all about providing access to this underserved community and we are excited to make it happen,” said Francisco Sanchez, Harris County Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator.
“As we have seen with recent weather events, emergency preparedness is a yearlong exercise and I am excited to have these resources created with blind and low-vision Houstonians in mind,” said Houston Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities Director, Gabe Cazares. “Last year’s partnership with Harris County and Deaf Link to create ASL messaging around emergency preparations made this an easy next step.”
The Emergency Preparedness audio messages produced by Sight Into Sound for the blind and visually impaired cover the same 11 topics as the American Sign Language (ASL) videos produced by Deaf Link for the deaf and hard of hearing. The ASL videos are available online at https://www.readyharris.org/Accessible-Videos
HCOHSEM, MOPD, and Sight Into Sound created a series of 11 audio messages covering topics such as:
- Evacuation Assistance
- Evacuation Zones
- Flood Insurance
- Get a Kit
- Make a Plan
- Medical Care
- Mental Health Support
- Pet Preparedness
- Power Outages
- Sheltering Information
- Stay Informed
All 11 messages are currently being broadcast in rotation on Sight Into Sound Radio which can be heard on KUHT-TV’s Channel 8.5, on KUHF-FM’s digital HD Channel 4, or streamed on a computer, smartphone or smart speaker using Amazon Alexa.
Each of the 11 messages are available 24/7 on Sight Into Sound’s website at sightintosound.org This website is designed to be accessible to the blind and visually impaired, using browsers and screen readers with text-to-speech capability.
At the top of Sight Into Sound’s Home page, click on “Emergency Preparedness Information” to view a menu of Emergency Preparedness messages in English. Or click on “Preparacion para Emergencias” to view a menu of Emergency Preparedness messages in Spanish.