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New strategies recommended for deaf people during disaster

21 October 2013

The NSW Government has joined forces with the Deaf Society of NSW, University of Wollongong and emergency services to launch a report aimed at keeping the deaf community informed during times of disaster, such as the current bushfire crisis.

Minister for Ageing and Disability Services, John Ajaka, today delivered the joint report, Increasing the Resilience of the Deaf Community in NSW to Natural Hazards and Disasters, as part of the National Week of Deaf People 2013.

"This report is a comprehensive two-year study outlining the issues faced by the deaf community during disaster or emergency situations," Mr Ajaka said.

"In a time of disaster, I can only imagine the challenge faced by those with hearing impairment in responding to serious hazards.

"With the devastating bushfires sweeping through parts of the state, the need for timely and accurate information for all has been highlighted.

"While the study details the difficulties faced by those who have hearing impairment, it acknowledges the work that government agencies are already doing – such as the inclusion of visual clues, diagrams and Auslan interpreters in emergency broadcasts."

Mr Ajaka said the report identified a number of ways to better inform and empower the deaf community during the times of disaster.

"The report identifies 19 programs, strategies and communication tools that may be implemented to better empower people with hearing impairments," he said.

"Guided by this report, the NSW Government will be able to work towards empowering people in the deaf community, allowing for greater participation and to make better informed decisions about issues that affect them."

The NSW Government, through the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS), is providing more than $10 million in funding in the 2013-14 financial year towards services for people with sensory disabilities, including vision impairment.

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