Accessibility: Making information accessible in disasters

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Quick Facts

Publishing Organisation:
LINKS EU_Project
Covers Thematic
  • Crisis communication Crisis communication is a strategic approach to corresponding with people and organizations during a disruptive event. When a crisis occurs, proactive, quick and detailed communication is critical.</br></br></br>Source:
  • Vulnerable groups Those groups that, due to physical, social, economic and environmental factors or processes, are more exposed and susceptible to the impacts of hazards.
  • Target audience
  • Civil Society Civil society is a target group in LINKS which comprises citizens, civil society organizations, educational institutions, vulnerable groups, social movement organizations
  • Media The term media refers to any means of distribution, dissemination or interpersonal, mass or group communication of works, documents, or written, visual, audio or audiovisual messages (such as radio, television, cinema, Internet, press, telecommunications, etc.)</br></br>Entities using multiple communication channels are often called Media
  • Policy Makers local, national, and European agencies and institutes, public authorities, standardization bodies
  • Practitioners Practitioners is a target group in LINKS which comprises local, national and European disaster management organizations, civil protection agencies, first responders, NGOs, security networks...
  • Audience experience level
  • Intermediate Those who currently use social media to communicate with the public and have developed a draft social media strategy, even if this is not thoroughly documented or communicated across the organisation</br></br>Source:
  • Disaster Management Phase
  • Before Comprises 'Preparedness Phase' and 'Prevention Phase'</br></br>Preparedness action is carried out within the context of disaster risk management and aims to build the capacities needed to efficiently manage all types of emergencies and achieve orderly transitions from response to sustained recovery.</br></br>Source:</br></br>Prevention (i.e., disaster prevention) expresses the concept and intention to completely avoid potential adverse impacts of hazardous events.</br></br>Source:
  • Synopsis

    Material accessibility

    Access to material goods that help to satisfy basic needs and to be able to respond to disasters

    • Accessibility is the condition to guarantee the integration without any barriers
      • In relation to social media and crowdsourcing, material accessibility refers to the access to communication and information systems and more generally to technological devices.
      • Moreover, it refers to the role that social media and crowdsourcing could have in facilitating the access to relief systems.
      • The starting assumption is that the lack of access to the virtual space can exacerbate an individual’s condition of vulnerability, depriving him or her of the possibility of receiving information and being represented in the flow of rescue requests and the response.

    Physical and sensory accessibility

    Physical and/or sensorial (in)ability to use specific platforms or communication system

    • Disability can be defined as people’s ability to access communication and Internet
    • Digital disability could overlap with physical disability, increasing the risk of situation of discrimination and exclusion*
      • Often governments, organizations and agencies fail to adopt a disability perspective during emergency situations and crises.
      • People with visual and hearing impairment and difficulties could be left behind.
      • Most of the social media platform are inaccessible for people with visual impairment and they exclude them from participating and collect information.
      • There is the need to expand the concept of disability and accessibility in disasters, including online environment.

    Cultural accessibility

    Access to information, knowledge and education, as well as linguistic and intellectual accessibility

    • Individuals’ possession of resources on potential risk include how they respond to the danger
      • Difficulties to distinguish between true and false information. There should be trust in the information provided.
      • Most marginalized groups are usually less inclined to trust on the social information from institutional channels.
    • Social and geographical differences increase the knowledge accessibility disparities
      • Geographical context plays an important role in the cultural accessibility because urban people are more inclined in the use of Social Media & Coud Sourcing also as a source of information during a disaster, while rural dwellers may limit their use of SMCS because they feel excluded by the flow of information provided.

    Relief accessibility

    Access to political, economic and social system, as well as power and representation. The possibility of access to the relief system, such as sending requests and receiving support

    • If people hear things from people they know, they respond better than the notice
      • Social media plays an important role during a disaster especially because they give the possibility to share the current position also to the rescuers, to share information to people that are in the same emergency.
      • There have been some cases in which during an emergency a specific “hashtag” has been created and shared with people that could help to collect all the information together.
    • It is important that people have multiple ways to receive information during disasters
      • Social media are important both for ensure the securing rescue and to organize efforts of volunteers to help people

    Recommended Actions

    • Action 1: How to identify your target group
      • This section aims of providing you with guiding questions to help you to map your communication needs and how targeting your social groups.
    • Action 2: How to identify accessibility problems
      • This section aims of providing you with an overview of the main accessibility problems your target group could meet in accessing your online channels of communication.
    • Action 3: How to set up your communication channel
      • In order to help you to set up in the best way your communication channel, we provide you here a checklist to create an accessible social media post
    • Action 4: Connecting problems to actions
      • This tool has been thought to support you in identifying faster what are the best actions to take when you deal with accessibility problems

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