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Tornado warning awareness, risk perception and response among people who are blind

Authors: Kathleen Sherman-Morris*, Mississippi State University, Taylor Pechacek, Mississippi State University, Jason Senkbeil, University of Alabama, Darrin Griffin, University of Alabama
Topics: Hazards and Vulnerability, Communication, Disabilities
Keywords: hazards, vulnerable populations, media
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This presentation summarizes results from A Vortex-SE project focused on improving the tornado warning communication process for people who are legally blind. An initial round of 25 interviews was conducted with participants from Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Participants provided information regarding sources they use to obtain severe weather information, qualities they like or dislike about those sources and tornado warning messages, warning elements that encourage them to take the warnings seriously, and barriers they face in receiving the warning, assessing risk or taking protective action. A key finding from the first round of interviews suggested that more verbal description and specific types of location information were needed to help the participants personalize the warning information. Based on these needs, tornado warning scenarios were designed that provided an additional level of geographic detail. One warning scenario also incorporated probabilistic warning information. A second group of participants were interviewed about their perceptions of warning information using these scenarios. All participants were read two warnings about the same location as well as three warnings that used geographic details associated with their own location. Participants were asked how helpful the warnings were, what they would do upon receiving it, and how bad the storm will be. They were also asked to describe the trajectory or path of the warned tornado. Preliminary results from the second round of interviews as well as conclusions from the first round will be presented.

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