Texas cities prepare for emergencies and how they will affect people who have a variety of needs, including communication needs. More community input is needed to ensure that existing programs serve a purpose and are easily understood, but emergency preparations have come a long way.
Registering for communication and other needs during disasters
The State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry, or STEAR, is a program where people with disabilities may register and list their needs in times of disaster. According to the website, the registry “provides local emergency planners and emergency responders with additional information on the needs in their community.”
The program doesn’t guarantee that accommodations will be available to Texans in time of emergency, since, according to the website, Texas communities use the data in different ways. However, it’s recommended that people who have communication needs register so their local community is aware of their emergency needs.
Preparing ahead for emergencies
The Texas Department of State Health Services’ Ready or Not? website has checklists, brochures, information, and printable emergency wallet cards to help people prepare for emergencies. The site’s Disaster Supply Checklist includes items that people may need for assistive technology, such as hearing aids and hearing aid batteries.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Ready.gov provides special concerns for people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.
This includes having a NOAA weather radio or downloading the FEMA Safety App, and they offer unusual considerations, such as taking an older analog TTY phone or captioned phone with you.
They also make recommendations regarding service animals, which may be taken into shelters, provided the individual with a disability remains with them and can answer the necessary two questions.