Post by: Kim Stephens
The National Capital Region is hosting a social media summit today, July 19, 2012. I am more than privileged to attend, facilitate and present at this event. As of last count we have about 130 people scheduled to participate from across the region including local, state and federal officials.
The goal of the meeting is to “discuss, define and discover solutions for the use of social media during emergencies in the D.C., Virginia and Maryland area.” We asked people about what they hoped to get of the meeting and there were varying responses, all with the word or concept of “learning” in them.
- “I hope to learn how other organizations are using social media…”
- “I hope to get ideas/information about how to use the tools to gain situational awareness”
- “I want to learn as much as I can!“
One of the focuses will be on what we learned from the recent Derecho storm that hit this area pretty hard. Whether or not organizations were using social media for the first time or the 100th, there will be plenty of areas for reflection.
From my perspective, I will be using my 8 minute spark presentation to talk about lessons I personally learned just last week while helping facilitate a CERT training seminar for deaf, hard of hearing, and interpreters on the Gallaudet campus in Washington, D.C. At the training, I presented a module on social media: I came away with a few new ideas and changed perceptions as did some of the CERT members–it was a great information exchange! Some observations and outcomes:
- Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals are very visual–ASL is, after all, a visual language. Therefore, the written word doesn’t carry as much weight as the signed word. Lesson: Response agencies should include as many pictures and videos as possible to communicate their message.
- Gallaudet is considering creating 1-2 minute protective action videos in American Sign Language for each of the common hazards in DC. These videos will be available on YouTube. This also means other response organizations will be able to link to this content in Tweets and in Facebook posts–and even on their websites.
- Facebook is the platform of choice of most older deaf individuals–there were a lot of professors and educators in the room versus students; however, I was told that the younger deaf population does use Twitter. There initially was a misconception that Twitter was only text and therefore, not as user friendly to the deaf community as Facebook–where videos and pictures can be easily posted. Explaining how hyperlinks worked helped ease that concern.
- Videos posted without adequate captioning are useless, annoying or both. If you do this you are sending a message to this community that states loud and clear: “We don’t care!”
- There are interpreters for the deaf throughout the DC metropolitan area that are ready, willing and able to help in a crisis. Why not pull them in to help with social media?
- If your response organization has a social media presence, market it to the deaf community. Don’t expect them to magically find your information–actively seek them out and encourage them to follow you.
- Gallaudet Hosts CERT training (preparednessforall.wordpress.com)
- Social Media: A tool to reach the Access and Functional Needs Community (idisaster.wordpress.com)
- Gallaudet University CERT Training (preparednessforall.wordpress.com)