What resources are there for emergency preparedness for students who are deaf/hard of hearing? How does a school handle safety concerns for students who are D/HH when they are away from communication sources (e.g., in the bathroom, in the hallway, etc.)?
Every district must describe in their ESE Policies and Procedures (SP&P) how they will address the learning environment for students who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing. This is the minimum that every district must include:
Each learning environment shall have appropriate acoustic treatment, lighting, and auditory amplification equipment to meet the individual needs of each student [emphasis added]. Auditory equipment shall be made available through the school district (e.g., Personal or Soundfield FM systems, infrared systems, induction loop systems, and other assistive listening devices). Auditory equipment will be calibrated annually, maintained, and considered for replacement on a five (5)-year cycle. Visual alarm devices shall be provided in all areas where students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing may be separated from persons with normal hearing—group bathrooms, corridors, specific areas designated for the deaf, etc., in accordance with Rule 6A-2.0010, F.A.C. [emphasis added].
- Many mass notification systems are designed with both auditory and visual alert features to ensure messages are accessible. Fire drill and lockdown alert systems must be installed following specific legal codes and standards to alert people with audible spoken messages or alert noises as well as lighted strobes. Today, schools are reducing their list of types of emergency responses to train on and are reducing to situations which require an evacuation (fire alerts) or a lockdown/shelter-in-place.
- Many vendors offer mass notification platforms (unified communication systems) over and above fire drill and lockdown alert systems (e.g. MessageNet Systems or Alertus Technologies). These platforms can connect to and supplement these systems. These platforms can send out both pre-written messages “canned” which can be selected as needed or custom written messages developed during an event. Additional notification devices and methods include:
- Message board LED/ intercom devices which can be controlled by a network-based administrative software platform to send LED scrolling text messages as well as an auditory announcement. They can be installed where needed and powered over ethernet (POE). In the event these devices are utilized with a fire/lockdown system which uses a spoken message, the competing spoken intercom part should be programmed not to conflict.
- Computer-based pop-up alerts are pushed to computers from a network administrative software platform. These typically pop-up as a screen with the scrolling emergency or informational message.
- Phone/Text/Email mass messaging systems are often hosted off-site and can be connected to the other above mentioned systems or used independently.
- Emergency alert buttons on lanyards, mounted on walls, or within software products are another option to trigger a message to notify emergency responders. Some of these systems also automatically turn on a camera within a meeting room or classroom once the button is triggered to get video recorded information about the emergency as it is happening. This footage can then be reviewed by administrators and/or emergency responders.
- The mass notification platforms which supplement the fire/lockdown systems provide added value because they can be incorporated as an every day, operational way to communicate fully accessible messages. Mass notification systems and unified communications systems are often interconnected and utilized for both informational messaging as well as emergency and crisis messaging.
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) “All-Hazards Radios” are available to people who are deaf/hard of hearing with visuals and vibrating alarms, and some with text that reads the emergency situation.
- Florida’s Department of Management Services (FDMS) is working towards Statewide Text-to-911 Initiative. Check the FDMS website to see if your county has it. Teach the student and family how to use it if your county is participating.
- Students who are D/HH should be specifically taught how to use the FortifyFL App so they can report suspicious activity. If they have a phone, they can download it now.
- Register with your county Florida Disaster Special Needs Registry
|Statutes, TAPs, other legal references||
|Videos (TALive!, Pineapple PD, etc.), Handouts, Other Resources||
|Other: Expanded Skills||SP.PK12.DH.6.7 Develop an emergency contingency plan to gather information regarding man-made or natural disasters or personal emergencies.
SP.PK12.DH.6.3b Locate and respond appropriately to alerting devices, such as fire or smoke alarm, doorbell, phone, and monitors in the school, community, and job site.
SP.PK12.DH.6.2b Select and use assistive technology-low-tech high-tech, closed captioning, alerting systems-that is personally appropriate.
The information contained in the FAQs does not constitute legal advice. Please refer to the original sources listed in each FAQ for more information.