Emergency Alerts for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

The State of Oklahoma has instituted a groundbreaking system for alerting Deaf and hard of hearing residents of impending disasters like the tornado that recently ravished th City of Moore. The system is called OK-WARN, which is an acronym for “Oklahoma Weather Alert Remote Notification,” and involves sending Deaf residents stormwarnings on alphanumeric pagers. (An alphanumeric pager shows letters as well as numbers.) The National Weather Service sends automatic warnings when extreme weather is about to happen, alerting the Deaf population in a way that sirens cannot.

“We are excited to be a part of this important effort,” Meteorologist Richard Smith said. “Weather can turn dangerous quickly in Oklahoma, and it’s critical that everyone be able to receive life-saving warnings from the National Weather Service.”

The service is free, though participants need to own their own pager, which can be purchased for as little as $30, and a $7 monthly service plan for the pager.

You can find more about the OK-WARN program here.

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