NU signThe First Responder Network Authority writes  about Niagara University as model and resource in “Using Technology To Aid Emergency Response Involving People with Disabilities“. The training program  helps first responders prepare for emergencies involving individuals with disabilities.

David Whalen, who runs Niagara University’s First Responders Disability Awareness Training (FRDAT) program, says that in today’s technologically driven world, considerations must be made to get information to the first responder in the most effective way, and vice-versa, when it comes to interacting with those with disabilities. He points to solutions like smartphone applications (apps) and Web programs to help responders with awareness, language translation, tips for communicating with those with speech impediments, and more.

In addition to the work that David is leading at Niagara, there are several efforts aimed at increasing the disabled community’s access to new technologies for emergency planning and response purposes. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) addressed the issue during the Accessing Social Media event in Washington, DC in July. The forum brought together industry, consumer, and government representatives to exchange information about making social media tools and content accessible to people with disabilities.

More recently, last week the FCC also held the Accessible Wireless Emergency Communications Forum to promote the latest advances in accessible wireless emergency communications and raise awareness of the needs of people with disabilities prior to developing devices and services that can be used during emergencies.