National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Michelle Lammers

NOAA’s Weather–Ready Nation initiative is about building community resilience in the face of increasing vulnerability to extreme weather and water events.

In People of Weather–Ready Nation, we sit down with some of the people responsible for building a Weather­Ready Nation. We recently talked to Andrew J. Perlman, Chair, Board of Directors EARS, Inc.

1. What does a Weather–Ready Nation mean to you?

A Weather-Ready Nation, to EARS, means all communities are prepared for, can respond to and recover from severe weather events. This includes often-overlooked communities such as individuals with various forms of hearing loss. Training programs and the availability of emergency alerting devices such as weather radios are critical to preparedness programs. Thanks to the National Weather Service in Middle Tennessee, these training opportunities have taken the form of Storm Spotter Trainings and Severe Weather Awareness Day. EARS has been instrumental in ensuring these opportunities are accessible to the hearing loss community with American Sign Language interpreters and captioning providers.

2. How are you helping to build a Weather–Ready Nation?

With assistance from the National Weather Service in Nashville, EARS facilitated four Storm Spotter trainings for the hearing loss community in Middle Tennessee. These trainings empowered approximately 250 members of the hearing loss community to be active participants in the emergency alerting process during extreme weather events. Training workshops were accessible to these overlooked communities, with sign language interpreters and captioning provided. These trainings ended with the distribution of weather radios, accessible to the hearing loss community with text alert information. EARS has been working since 2010 to provide emergency and disaster preparedness training, as well as accessible emergency alerting devices, to the Deaf, hard of hearing and deaf-blind communities throughout Tennessee. EARS is a nonprofit organization consisting of emergency planners, government and non- government agencies, advocates and members of the hearing loss community, and representatives from the private sector.

3. What is the biggest challenge you see in making the nation ready, responsive, and resilient to extreme events?

The biggest challenge to building a Weather Ready Nation is the lack of understanding that community members themselves can be assets in reporting extreme weather events. In Tennessee, individuals with various forms of hearing loss have been trained to be Storm Spotters, providing an important resource to the National Weather Service. It’s collaboration between organizations like EARS and the National Weather Service that makes our nation better prepared, responsive and resilient in the face of extreme weather events.


Andrew Perlman has been part of EARS since 2011 and Board Chair since February 2015. He is a subject matter expert in emergency planning for overlooked populations including those with disabilities, access and functional needs. He works with exceptional Board members and a dedicated group of emergency planners, advocates, members of the hearing loss community and the private sector.