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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 6 - Conclusions and Recommendations." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Airport Emergency Communications for People with Disabilities and Others with Access and Functional Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25507.
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Page 44
Page 45
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 6 - Conclusions and Recommendations." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Airport Emergency Communications for People with Disabilities and Others with Access and Functional Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25507.
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Page 45

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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 airport’s emergency communication needs. An inventory of the airport’s 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 “core” techniques have been applied, air- ports are encouraged to review “enhanced” and “emerging” techniques to fill identified gaps and develop a more comprehensive strategy. 3. Incorporate accessible communications strategies into the airport’s 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: • 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. • Support “everyone is a first responder.” 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 • 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. • 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. • 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. • 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 airport’s 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. • 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.

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TRB's Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Research Report 201 provides guidance and tools for airports to aid in effective communication with passengers and persons with disabilities, including those with cultural and language differences.

The report includes a primer that discusses issues, techniques, and the unique requirements and challenges of communicating with people with disabilities and others who have access or functional needs.

The report explores uses of technology and other methods that incorporate ADA considerations and communication challenges with airport stakeholders, and training programs for airport personnel, including templates for development of curricula.

There are case study examples of methods of emergency communication at airports and in other industries, and for universal messaging for emergency communications.

The project that produced the report also produced templates in support of airport emergency plans specifically addressing individuals with limited English proficiency, step-by-step tools that include a needs assessment tool that airports can use to determine what steps must to be taken to comply with ADA requirements concerning communications, and templates/worksheets/checklists for planning tabletop exercises that focus on communicating with people with disabilities and access or functional needs during emergency events. These resources are described and linked to below.

  • The Inventory Checklists (from Appendix A) list plans, reports, documents, programs, and services that are helpful in emergency communications for DAFN. The checklists make it easy to review what the airport has in place, what needs to be developed or updated, etc.
  • The Accessibility Walkthrough Worksheet (from Appendix B) is a tool to structure evaluations (ideally conducted by members of a DAFN Advisory Group, as discussed in the report) that identify and assign accessibility ratings to existing communications modes and resources from curbside through baggage claim, and identify modes or resources that can be added or improved.
  • The FAA Airport Accessibility Checklist (from Appendix C) is reproduced online in PDF for convenience; a url is provided that directs users to the FAA source.
  • The Accessibility Strategy Quick Reference Guide (from Appendix D) summarizes key aspects of core, enhanced, and emerging strategies described in the report.
  • The CONOPS Template (from Appendix F) provides generic text for an Emergency Communications Concept of Operations document that airports can edit to meet their needs and those of the communities they serve.
  • The Disability Equity Training document provides training content, including empathy exercises, from Appendix G in a format that can be adapted and customized for use by practitioners.
  • The 1-Minute Read Poster (from Appendix H) provides a reproducible, one-page reference on how to offer and provide assistance respectfully to people with DAFN.
  • The Outreach Brochure (also from Appendix H) is provided in a separate downloadable file for use and distribution by practitioners.
  • The Exercise Toolkit (from Appendix I), with checklists and materials to support a discussion-based exercise and a full-scale, operational exercise, is reproduced in Word to facilitate adaptation and use by practitioners.
  • The Prepared Scenario Vignettes (from Appendix J), which can be used to lay the foundation of a discussion-based or tabletop exercise.
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