Video featuring deaf actors and a storytelling format advocates family preparedness

In Brief

The Connecticut Department of Public Health developed a short video featuring vignettes of a deaf family learning about preparedness. The video, presented in American Sign Language with English captions, covers numerous topics related to emergency planning and building a preparedness kit, and has been used in workshops across the state.


Health agency communicators are tasked with the job of ensuring that people with many different communication needs and preferences receive information they need to stay safe during a disaster. Nearly 300,000 people in Connecticut are deaf or have some type of hearing loss. Providing messages in formats accessible and appropriate to this population is an integral function of preparedness in the state.

Specific issue
  • Lack of tailored, interactive communication. After reading an article by Pollard et al in the May 2009 issue of Rehabilitation Psychology, Connecticut planners realized that translation of preparedness messages into American Sign Language (ASL) was not a sufficient means of communication. Deaf audiences were found to prefer interactive dialogue over on-screen presentations, a format difficult to access when seeking out preparedness information.
The practice

The Connecticut Department of Public Health (CDPH) developed an interactive preparedness video – "Prepared for Anything" – for people who are deaf and hard of hearing.

In collaboration with the Connecticut Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS), the health agency worked with a vendor to create a short video that provides information about comprehensively preparing for a variety of hazards. "Prepared for Anything" features deaf actors alternating between explaining information in a presentation format and acting out a situation involving a deaf mother and son learning how to prepare their household.

Topics covered in the video include emergency planning (eg, identifying places to reunite with family members during a disaster, maintaining or finding alternatives to utilities) and building a preparedness kit.

What made this practice possible?
  • Funding. Development of the video was funded by a CDC Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) grant.
  • Knowledge of community needs. Planners applied knowledge gained from published research to inform a project that used deaf actors and interactive storytelling to engage a specific population.
  • Video distribution and access. "Prepared for Anything" is available on the department's preparedness Web site, Facebook page, and YouTube channel.
  • Use in training. Connecticut DORS uses the video during its Deaf Emergency Preparedness Workshops, where it has been received positively.

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