Emergency Services accessibility for persons with disabilities

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Quick Facts

Publishing Organisation:
Primary Target Country:
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: www.techtarget.com/searchdisasterrecovery/definition/crisis-communication
  • Legal/Standards Legal Requirement means any federal, state, local, municipal, foreign or other law, statute, constitute, principle of common law, resolution, ordinance, code, edict, decree, rule, regulation, ruling or requirement issued, enacted, adopted, promulgated, implemented or otherwise put into effect by or under the authority of any Governmental Body. </br></br>Source: https://www.lawinsider.com/dictionary/legal-requirement</br></br>Standards are voluntary documents that set out specifications, procedures and guidelines that aim to ensure products, services, and systems are safe, consistent, and reliable. They cover a variety of subjects, including consumer products and services, the environment, construction, energy and water utilities, and more.</br></br>Source: https://www.standards.org.au/standards-development/what-is-standard
  • 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
  • Businesses companies, local business networks, solution providers, suppliers of goods and services
  • 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...
  • Researchers research institutions and scientific communities
  • 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: https://www.fp7-emergent.eu/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/20170529_D7.3_Guidelines_to_increase_the_benefit_of_social_media_EmerGent.pdf
  • 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: https://www.undrr.org/terminology/preparedness</br></br>Prevention (i.e., disaster prevention) expresses the concept and intention to completely avoid potential adverse impacts of hazardous events.</br></br>Source: https://www.undrr.org/terminology/prevention
  • During Also referred to as "Response Phase"</br></br>Actions taken directly before, during or immediately after a disaster in order to save lives, reduce health impacts, ensure public safety and meet the basic subsistence needs of the people affected.</br></br>Annotation: Disaster response is predominantly focused on immediate and short-term needs and is sometimes called disaster relief. Effective, efficient and timely response relies on disaster risk-informed preparedness measures, including the development of the response capacities of individuals, communities, organizations, countries and the international community.</br></br>Source: https://www.undrr.org/terminology/response
  • After Also referred to as 'Recovery Phase'</br></br>The restoring or improving of livelihoods and health, as well as economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets, systems and activities, of a disaster-affected community or society, aligning with the principles of sustainable development and “build back better”, to avoid or reduce future disaster risk.</br></br>Source: https://www.undrr.org/terminology/recovery
  • Synopsis


    • Disability affects a high proportion of the population, but many countries still do not provide accessible emergency services.
    • Limited communications options can leave persons with disabilities in particularly dangerous situations in times of emergency, particularly as many emergency services are only accessible via voice call.
    • The situation is nevertheless changing, as recent European Union (EU) legislation requires equivalent access to emergency services through emergency communications.


    • What obligations must Member States abide by?
      • Persons with disabilities must be able to contact emergency services on an equivalent basis compared to other end-users.
      • The concept of ‘equivalent access’ has been clarified in the European Electronic Communications Code and the European Accessibility Act.
      • As of June 2025, at least real time text will have to be deployed in the Member States.
      • Means of access to emergency services should be free of charge to the user.
      • Location information of the person contacting 112 should be provided to the emergency services.
      • Relevant authorities should seek to facilitate the way citizens with disabilities can contact emergency services in other EU countries, “were feasible without any pre-registration”.


    • What solutions are available to ensure access?
      • The document presents the functional requirements of effective solutions, including caller location, reliability, roaming and call-back, among others.
    • Several solutions are currently in use in different European countries, including
      • total conversation,
      • relay services,
      • SMS,
      • smartphone applications and fax.
      • The document explores the pros and cons of these systems and defines a number of recommendations for countries implementing solutions.


    • Deaf
      • Gallaudet University describes a deaf individual as “Anyone who cannot understand speech (with or without hearing aids or other devices) using sound alone (i.e. no visual cues such as lip reading).”
    • Deaf-Blind
      • A term used to describe a person in whom hearing loss and vision impairment combine to interfere with his/her ability to hear and see. S/he may have either total or partial loss of both senses.
    • Disability
      • UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities refers to disability as “long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments, which in interaction with various barriers may hinder people’s full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others”.
    • Hard of Hearing
      • The term ‘hard of hearing’ refers to those who have some hearing, can use it for communication purposes, and who are reasonably comfortable in doing so.
      • A hard of hearing person, in audiological terms, may have a mild to moderate hearing loss.
    • Next Generation 112 (NG112)
      • Interoperability between emergency services: NG112 enables the several Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP) to be part of a common emergency service IP- network, providing them with redundancy and interoperability features.
        • This network should support data and communications needs for coordinated incident management between PSAPs and provide a reliable and secure environment for emergency communications.
      • Communication between citizens and emergency services:
        • NG112 is designed to enable citizens to reach an authority (e.g., PSAP) by calls using Voice over Internet Protocol, text messaging, instant messaging, real-time text, pictures, and videos. It could also provide emergency services with more data such as telematics and health data. Based on a caller’s location, NG112 enables the delivery of calls, messages, and data to the appropriate PSAP and other appropriate emergency entities and makes call handling easier.
    • Pre-registration
      • Before being able to use a communication channel, you may be required to give your phone number and details such as your name or information about your disability.
    • Sign Languages
      • Sign languages are fully-fledged, natural languages with linguistic properties, including grammatical features, such as morphology, phonology, and syntax.
      • They have these qualities in common with all spoken languages.

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