Upper West Side CERT

Talking Points for People with Hearing Disabilities

speaking in sign-languageThis is Part 2 of a three-part series on Ready New York Talking Points for People with Disabilities. Our topic this week is preparedness for people with hearing disabilities.

If you are hearing disabled, these simple tips can make your life easier and safer. The key to readiness is to make a plan BEFORE an emergency, so you can be ready if there is one.

For everyone else, if you interact with people who have hearing loss — and most of us do at some time or another — the two etiquette tips that follow will help you to communicate more effectively.


  • When interacting with a person who is deaf, make sure to speak to the person and not the interpreter.
  • When speaking with a person who is deaf or has hearing loss, make sure to stand in front of the person so they can read your lips.


Make A Plan

  • Make sure to have a back-up plan in case there are no interpreters available or your hearing aids are left behind.
  • Consider carrying a printed copy of key phrases, such as “I speak American Sign Language (ASL) and need an ASL interpreter or a communication board”.
  • Ask your building management or co-workers to help you identify emergency exit locations in advance.
  • Service centers and accessible evacuation centers will provide Video Remote Interpretation (VRI). In the event VRI is not available due to connectivity issues, in-person ASL interpreters can be provided.

Gather Supplies

  • Everyone needs a Go Bag. Follow this link to get started: Are You Prepared?
  • Put back-up hearing aids in your Go Bag, in case you need to leave in a hurry. This can be an old pair of hearing aids in good condition.
  • Make sure to include extra batteries for hearing aids, implants, TTY, tablet, and/or light phone signaler.
  • Consider having a communication board and portable charger to communicate through text messages or Video Relay Interpretation.
  • Keep a whistle (or other items that make noise) in your Go Bag, so that in an emergency you can signal to your neighbors that you need help.

Stay Informed

  • If you have questions about city services or an emergency, you can call 311’s video relay number at 212-639-9675, or call 212-504-4115 for TTY.
  • Ready NY videos provide captioning for people who are deaf or have hearing loss. www.nyc.goc/readyny
  • Notify NYC alerts are provided in American Sign Language (ASL). www.nyc.gov/notifynyc


June 18 – Talking Points for Pets and Service Animals

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