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KVLU Participates in Emergency Alert Program for deaf, hard-of-hearing

By Sharon Forret
summarized by Joelle Chasse, staff writer

Twenty-six NPR member stations, including Lamar University’s public radio 91.3 KVLU, have been chosen to participate in a pilot program developed for delivering emergency alerts to deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals in the Gulf Coast states of Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.

The program is a cooperative effort with NPR Labs. It is the first program of its kind to attempt delivery of “real-time, accessibility-targeted” messages in the case of emergency, such as severe weather warnings.

The pilot program is still in testing stages of development. In the demonstration project, NPR will transmit emergency message alerts through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s IPAWS (Integrated Public Alerting Warning System) to the PRSS (Public Radio Satellite System) in Washington D.C. These messages will be transmitted to each of the twenty-six stations, which will then broadcast the messages to their designated listening audiences in order to test how effectively these messages are being delivered.

Deaf and hard of hearing volunteers will receive these messages via devices that display text messages. They will be alerted to the receipt of a message by a flashing light indicator or a bed-shaker linked to and activated by their radios, to guarantee the message is conveyed day or night.

“This is a crucial first step in this very important project,” said Mike Starling, executive director, Technology Research Center and NPR Labs. “I want to sincerely thank KVLU for volunteering to participate in a project that will demonstrate that all individuals, including those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, can stay informed in emergencies when electricity, Internet and other communications channels are unavailable.”

The Gulf State area of the United States was chosen for the emergency alert system due to its frequent severe and abrupt weather conditions.

The complete list of participating NPR Member stations can be found within the full article here.

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