Emergency situations and deaf people in Israel: Communication obstacles and recommendations

Carolina Tannenbaum-Baruchi, Paula Feder-Bubis, Bruria Adini, Limor Aharonson-Daniel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The absence of the ability to hear sounds in deaf people is an obstacle to optimal communication in a predominantly hearing world. Emergency situations harbor sufficient challenge for the hearing person and pose even greater barriers for the deaf and hard of hearing. During disasters and emergency situations, deaf people have great difficulty in obtaining and sharing information, increasing their dependence on others. This article focuses on the experience of deaf people during a period of security threat, when missiles from the Gaza strip were aimed at the civilian population in Southern Israel, in 2009. The aim of this article is to illustrate the complexities that deaf citizens experienced, and describe their coping mechanisms. A qualitative study including 15 heterogeneous-background Deaf participants interviewed by a researcher that belongs to the deaf community using a multiple-method facilitated questionnaire. Data was analyzed using grounded theory methodology principles. Main categories that arose from data analysis were communication problems during emergencies, the pager as a questionable warning device about emergencies (due to timing and content/context issues of its use), and the implications of the location of deaf people at time of emergency. Various channels for conveying information should be examined and created in order to maximize the heterogeneous deaf community's ability to receive vital information during an emergency. Professional sign language interpreters are necessary during emergencies, helping to reduce both dependence on informal sources (such as family members, including minors, friends, neighbors, by-standers) and risk. The development of new technologies may bear potential help for deaf persons during emergencies. Being a socio-linguistic minority, it is recommended to ensure these technologies will be accessible to the whole deaf community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-111
Number of pages6
JournalDisaster health
Issue number2
StatePublished - 31 Dec 2014


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