NPR Introduces Device for Captioning Emergency Alerts


NPR Labs has been — and is still — developing a new emergency alert system designed to get critical messages to deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals even in the event of a catastrophic power outage. Unlike a standard TV or internet emergency warning, the device is powered by individuals’ tablets, allowing it to function during a loss of Wifi and municipal power. The device — a rudimentary box that attaches to the iPad or other tablet — captions emergency alerts broadcast over the public radio provider and its affiliates.

NPR is currently testing the program in the Gulf region, about which Mississippi Congressman Steven Palazzo said, “This valuable partnership with Mississippi’s local public radio stations promises to expand the reach of our disaster alert systems, and I can think of no better place to conduct this trial than the Gulf Coast.” Pending a successful test, the process will be rolled out nationally on stations serviced by the PRSS, or Public Radio Satellite System, which reaches 95% of the country.

The program is the result of a grant from the Deaprtment of Homeland Security and FEMA, and has been in development since early last year.

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