Deaf Canadians 'at risk' in times of national emergency

Source(s)
CBC/Radio-Canada

By Sherry Noik

When the next ice storm, wildfire or terror attack happens, Canadians who are deaf or hard of hearing will be in greater peril than others because most public notification systems are not accessible to them, experts say. 

The Canadian Hearing Society estimates there are 3.15 million Canadians who are hard of hearing and 340,000 Canadians who are deaf, including an estimated 11,000 who are deaf-blind. In policy and in practice, Canada lags behind other countries in ensuring their safety in an emergency.

"Canadian deaf, hard-of-hearing, and deaf-blind people do not have access to information in a way that is designed to survive a crisis," said a report produced in March by DLR Consulting for the Canadian Hearing Society (CHS).

[...]

To reach the deaf community effectively would require messaging in multiple formats, for multiple platforms, because sign languages are not merely translated versions of English or French; they are distinct languages — and for some they are a first language. In Canada, the main sign languages are American Sign Language (ASL); langue des signes québécoise (LSQ); Indigenous Sign Language (ISL); and Inuit Sign Language, recognized by the government of Nunavut.

Public Safety Canada says each medium has "unique constraints."

[...]

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