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Series provides essential information in captions and American Sign Language
TRENTON – The Christie Administration today released a series of emergency preparedness videos designed primarily for people who are Deaf. The videos provide essential information in American Sign Language, with captioning, on a variety of readiness issues. The project was funded through a Federal Emergency Management Agency Subgrant from the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management (OEM) to the Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DDHH).“We use every September as a time to promote emergency preparedness – to remind residents to have a plan or two in place - just in case,” said DHS Commissioner Jennifer Velez. “This preparation is even more critical for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing because in addition to the usual apprehensions about disaster planning, they have the challenge of overcoming communication barriers with first responders, neighbors and others who might try to assist them. We’re hopeful these videos will serve as a useful resource for the Deaf community.”

 The series includes details about building a kit, making a plan, sheltering in place and what to do if there’s an evacuation. Much of the content was borrowed, with permission, from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the Illinois Deaf and Hear of Hearing Commission with the introduction provided by David Alexander, Director of the DDHH.

 “An estimated 1 million state residents are Deaf and statistics show that up to 20 percent of adults have some form of hearing loss,” said Alexander. “Tropical Storm Irene and Superstorm Sandy really brought to light the need for emergency preparedness training and awareness in the Deaf community. My division fielded many calls from Deaf residents who were caught off-guard and in need of guidance on many of the issues addressed in these videos.”

 In addition to the videos, the DDHH is using the OEM grant to provide emergency management training to sixty certified American Sign Language interpreters, first responders and community organization representatives, and to develop a peer to peer training program in emergency preparedness for people who are Deaf and hard of hearing. 

 "The New Jersey Office of Emergency Management is committed to whole-community planning," said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police and State Director of the NJ Office of Emergency Management.  "Our partnership with the NJ Division of Deaf and Hard of Hearing has enabled us to act on that commitment, by integrating New Jersey's Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community into our disaster preparedness communications strategies."    

 The DDHH also has created a web page for emergency preparedness that provides links to more resources. For more information or to contact DDHH, call 800-792-8339

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