New American Sign Language Videos will Help Deaf, Hard of Hearing Prepare for Disasters

​May 15, 2012

SPRINGFIELD – Information on how to prepare for tornadoes, severe storms and flooding is now available for people who are deaf and hard of hearing in a series of new videos that use American Sign Language (ASL) and are fully captioned. 

The new videos join 11 other ASL and captioned disaster preparedness videos developed by the Illinois Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission (IDHHC) and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA).

“We’re working hard to make preparedness information accessible to everyone through the Ready Illinois website,” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken.  “We received a great response from across the nation about the first set of ASL videos, and we’re very excited to add to that series with these hazard-specific videos.”

ASL is a natural, visual, non-spoken language extensively used within and among the deaf community.  Many people do not realize that ASL is separate and distinct from the English language.  It is vital for people who use ASL to have equal access to such important information.

The latest videos provide information on what to do before, during and after a tornado, severe storm and flooding.  All of the ASL videos are available on the Ready Illinois website at and on the IDHHC website at

The original 11 videos were released in 2012 and cover such topics as how to make a household emergency plan, building an emergency supply kit, planning for evacuations and sheltering in place, and emergency planning for people with disabilities and functional needs. 

“My involvement in this video project has been somewhat of a ‘wakening’ to myself, as I believe it will be to the deaf and hard of hearing community in Illinois,” said IDHHC Director John Miller.  “The definition of severe weather includes not only tornadoes, but also flooding, damaging winds, hail and lightning that come with severe thunderstorms.  Through these videos, we hope to expand access to this information so those who are deaf and hard of hearing will know how to protect themselves and their families during disasters.”

The latest video series was produced by the University of Illinois at Springfield.  The Illinois Terrorism Task Force provided nearly $1,000 for production costs. 

The Ready Illinois website also has a guide that provides preparedness tips for senior citizens; people with mobility, sight, hearing or cognitive impairments or mental health and substance abuse problems; and people who use life support systems or service animals.  The guide, Emergency Preparedness Tips for Those with Functional Needs, is available at