Members of the Deaf community of Barbados are now better equipped to prepare themselves in the event of a natural disaster. Participants attended a workshop on Disaster and Emergency Preparedness which was recently held at Solidarity House. The workshop was organised by The Deaf Heart Project and facilitated by the Department of Emergency Management (DEM), the Barbados Meteorological Services (BMS), the Duke of Edinburgh International Award (DEIA) and the Barbados Workers Union.
Founder and Chairman of The Deaf Heart Project, Ché Greenidge, said that the workshop was a success, as the aim of it was to present members of the community with timely and practical methods that they could readily implement. “We want the Deaf to be stimulated to action, to play a role in their own preparedness, as far as possible, and to know what resources are available to them should they need assistance in the event of a disaster. The main goal of the workshop was to empower the deaf community by providing them with not only the relevant information needed but also hands-on experience in preparing themselves for an emergency.”
Program Officer at the DEM, Danielle Skeete, expressed sincere thanks to The Deaf Heart Project for the opportunity provided to engage with members of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. “It was our privilege to have interacted and delivered practical tips on hurricane preparedness to this special group of persons. The engagement served as an eye-opener in regards to work which still has to be done to ensure that all demographics of our Barbadian society are appropriately informed of pending hazards in a timely manner.” DEM gave practical takeaways as to how property could be reinforced and what to do during a hurricane to ensure safety. Additionally, attendees were provided with relevant resources with information about hurricane shelter locations and more.
Representatives of the BMS, led by Senior Meteorologist Semelka Jackman, raised awareness of preparedness for hurricanes and tsunamis, as well as demonstrated how to effectively use their website to stay informed of pertinent information. DEIA followed up with an interactive demonstration of what and how to pack to go to a shelter.
Feedback from participants confirmed the success of the event, but also raised concerns and additional needs of the community. 2023 National Youth Award Winner, Dario Nightengale, put forward the importance for members of the District Emergency Organisations to be aware of deaf individuals who live in the respective communities, so as to be proactive in the event of a hurricane. He also indicated the interest of the Deaf to have a deaf volunteer work with these organisations in order for information to be shared quickly to the community. Greenidge assured the participants that all suggestions would be followed up with the relevant authorities so that the Deaf will have a continued improved experience when it comes to disaster preparedness.