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44 During an emergency, communications must be received, understood, and acted on by the whole community, including people with disabilities, people with access and functional needs, and people with limited English proficiency (DAFN). Airports must develop and implement a communications strategy that reaches as broad an audience as possible through visual, audio, and human-to-human methods. By focusing on improving universal design, airports can pro- vide emergency communications for everyone, regardless of cognitive, physical, sociocultural, or other characteristics. By taking three actionable steps, airports can build a comprehensive emergency communica- tions strategy that considers the needs of people with DAFN (see Figure 12). 1. Conduct a self-assessment to identify the airportâs emergency communication needs. An inventory of the airportâs current communication capabilities and consultations with a DAFN advisory group can identify gaps where improvements should be made. Establishing a DAFN advisory group is a key tool for ensuring the emergency communication needs of people with DAFN are met. 2. Develop the communications strategy to ensure that it includes core techniques for communicating with people with DAFN. Once âcoreâ techniques have been applied, air- ports are encouraged to review âenhancedâ and âemergingâ techniques to fill identified gaps and develop a more comprehensive strategy. 3. Incorporate accessible communications strategies into the airportâs emergency pre- paredness program. Procedures and guidelines that ensure communications methods are accessible to people with DAFN should be included in emergency plans. Training and exercises should be used to ensure proper implementation during an emergency. The following actions can lay the foundation for an effective emergency communications strategy: â¢ Establish a DAFN advisory group. Airports are encouraged to develop working partner- ships with organizations that provide services to and/or advocate on behalf of members of DAFN groups. These organizations should be engaged actively and meaningfully in emer- gency planning. This inclusive emergency management strategy has been shown to yield products that are better matched to the needs of the people they are designed to support. â¢ Support âeveryone is a first responder.â All airport personnel have the opportunity to share information during an emergency. If properly trained, staff can be an additional resource for communicating with people with DAFN during an emergency. Airport personnel, customer service employees, and volunteers should receive training on how to support people with DAFN in emergency incidents and how to communicate in a com- passionate, caring, and perceptive manner. C H A P T E R 6 Conclusions and Recommendations
Conclusions and Recommendations 45 â¢ Implement a variety of strategies. Messages must be communicated multiple ways, using multiple methods, in multiple languages. Using the principles of universal design will help ensure that messages reach the intended audiences. There is no single solution for communi- cating with a diverse population. â¢ Do not overlook the simple solutions. Many individuals keep devices that help them communicate (e.g., smartphones, text-to-speech devices, and pocket translators) with them at all times. Although these technologies have limitations, such as battery life and Internet access, airports can help ensure their availability by making charging stations and Wi-Fi available throughout the airport. It is particularly helpful to provide these amenities in areas frequented by people with DAFN, such as quiet rooms or areas designated for people who have service animals. Charging stations also can serve as effective places to hang emergency preparedness outreach materials, such as posters encouraging travelers to sign up for emergency alerts. â¢ Take advantage of airport renovations as an opportunity to enhance accessible design. Often, accessible communications technologies are more cost-effective when they are installed during the construction and design phases of a project rather than as part of a retrofit. The design stage is an excellent time to engage the DAFN advisory group to explore opportunities to enhance accessible communications. â¢ Develop the plans and procedures needed for successful implementation. Airport emer- gency management and safety staff need to understand how communications strategies that accommodate people with DAFN fit in to their existing emergency communications protocols and procedures. Plans should outline how these methods are controlled and implemented by the airportâs emergency operations center and how they interface with existing systems and processes. Other departments, such as public affairs, will need to be involved to ensure that consistent, applicable messaging is pushed across all technologies. â¢ Procedures need to be tested early and often. Exercises are necessary to test whether emer- gency communications will reach people with DAFN during an actual emergency. Airports can incorporate communications strategies through injects or as part of exercise scenarios and should invite people with DAFN (together with their equipment and service animals) to participate in exercises conducted. Airports also can participate in emergency exercises for the county or surrounding cities to test regional coordination systems and processes. Figure 12. The three key steps to building a comprehensive emergency communication strategy that considers the needs of people with DAFN.