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October 01, 2013

FEMA: Removing Barriers to Alert Accessibility

(Note: The pdf for the issue in which this article appears is available for download: BIFOCAL Vol. 35, Issue 1.)

Recognizing that alert and warning information is only effective if received means understanding how people choose to receive information. And, if the goal is to alert everyone, then it is vitally important not to overlook the approximately 25% of the population who rely on assistance or accommodation in their day-to-day lives. Pushing information to TV and radio is simply no longer enough.

FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) is moving quickly toward the goal of making sure alerts and warnings are fully accessible by the whole community. This multi-platform approach to pushing information through a variety of devices attempts to ensure access to critical information by everyone. But there are still some final hurdles to overcome.

On FEMA’s website, you’ll find a paper serving to demonstrate how IPAWS addresses the challenges of reaching the whole community, including those who might need assistance. It argues that while IPAWS doesn’t solve all of the challenges, it can mitigate them—particularly with greater stakeholder engagement and public awareness.

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