by D. McClintock
Greetings, folks! Before I continue with my next comic strip, I'd like to take a break here and share some news with y'all. Just last night I went to Deaf Community Services' emergency town hall meeting. The meeting took place at DCS from 6pm to 8pm. Boy, was I glad I went there! It was a very spirited meeting. Since last night I feel proud to be part of the San Diego deaf community.
During the meeting we discussed problems, concerns and ways to improve communications between the deaf community, the firefighters, the police and emergency services. Notes were compared on the deaf community's responses to the fires in 2003 and 2007. Back in 2003 there existed in no place a mass notification system that would alert the deaf community of any impeding disaster such as a fire or an earthquake or hurricane. There was no interpreter on TV emergency broadcasts, either. Many deaf residents during that year were not aware the fires had broken out.
Now this year is a little different. This time an interpreter appeared on TV emergency broadcasts. It was largely with thanks to DCS' arduous efforts in getting an interpreter on TV. The interpreter's name was Joanne Cosentino. You can see her photo here. She was the sole interpreter who stood by the mayor and other speakers all during the week.
One of the most pivotal moments in the meeting was when DCS Director Bonnie Sherwood revealed to us how she saw Ron Roberts, Fourth District Supervisor on the S.D. County Board of Supervisors, pushed Joanne out of the way to make room for a representative from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. This infuriated Bonnie Sherwood and she immediately paged Joanne to describe what she saw on TV. Even Mayor Jerry Sanders, who was in the audience, was dismayed and he took Roberts asides and told him bluntly that it "was not good." (In other words, not cool!)
Since that incident Joanne was permitted to stand closer to the speaker. Yet sometimes during the week she would be out of the camera's focus. DCS kept in touch with OES (Office of Emergency Services) and made sure Joanne stayed in the camera's focus.
Bonnie Sherwood remarked that she thought Ron Roberts should issue a public apology to the deaf community for his rudeness to Joanne Cosentino. What do you think?
Ron Roberts has a website. If you wish to express your concern or file a complaint or write a polite request for a public apology, you can do so by emailing him at email@example.com.
In another development during the meeting, we learned more information about AlertSanDiego. DCS has a vlog on this new mass notification system. The County of San Diego, in partnership with Twenty First Century Communications, Inc., established this system that would notify residents through cell phone, VoIP phone, and email address. Deaf residents in San Diego who are interested in this system can register online at AlertSanDiego's website.
Bonnie Sherwood said that all the country is looking at San Diego, to see what we are doing. NAD is looking at us, too. AlertSanDiego is believed to be the first mass notification system that utilizes use of technology to send direct alerts to deaf residents and other people with disabilities. It could become an example for other mass notification systems across the U.S. to follow.
Someone in the audience at the meeting suggested trying EmergencyEmails.com. It can send alerts to your Sidekick. The alerts it sends out, however, goes through a third party.
It is not confirmed, but I think DCS will post a vlog of last night's meeting soon on its website. Look forward to it! Word should be spreaded out to deaf communities about those two systems!