National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

How NOAA Supports the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community

Many of us are familiar with the “screech” of an incoming severe weather alert on our TVs, radios and telephones. These alerts provide valuable and life-saving information about severe weather when it threatens your location. But, what if you couldn’t hear it? An emergency or disaster may present unique challenges for people with hearing disabilities. If you or someone you care for has a hearing disability, the National Weather Service has taken efforts to ensure our warnings and alerts can be received and the proper preparations and actions undertaken.

NOAA Weather Radio and other alerts for Deaf and Hard of Hearing

NOAA All-Hazards Radio receives National Weather Service (NWS) warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day. (Brochure)

While primarily an auditory alert system, many off-the-shelf All-Hazards Radios are available with visual and vibrating alarm features and simple text readouts for use by deaf or hard of hearing individuals. Special adaptors can also be added to some models of All-Hazards Radios by certain vendors. These adaptors can include, colorized warning lights to indicate the level of alert (Statement, Watch, Warning) and a Liquid Crystal Display readout of specific warnings. All Hazards Radios are programmable state/country selections that screen out alerts from other areas and can be battery-operated and portable at home, work, school, or while travelling around the country. Some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about NOAA All-Hazards Radio for the deaf and hard of hearing can be viewed here.

More information on NOAA All-Hazards Radio and how to configure it with adaptors for deaf or hard of hearing individuals can be viewed in the video below. 


Lightning Safety for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community

One of the NWS’s major successes in engaging the deaf and hard of hearing community with weather safety took place in our weather safety messaging regarding thunderstorms and lightning safety. The original campaign slogan, “When thunder roars, go indoors”, did not relate with the hearing-impaired community. As such, a team of NWS meteorologists undertook the mission of coming up with a new slogan that would be more inclusive to the community. As a result, “See a flash, dash inside” is now used in conjunction with the original slogan. A PSA for lightning safety for the deaf and hard of hearing can be seen below.