despp: Governor Announces Steps to Improve Communication With Non-English Speaking Residents, Individuals With Disabilities

GOV. MALLOY Announces Action Steps to Improve Communications with Non-English Speaking Residents, Individuals with Disabilities

Taskforce Recommendations Just the Latest Example of How the State has Improved Its Emergency Response


(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy today released an interim report from the Emergency Communications Taskforce, which reviewed how state government communicates with residents during storms or other emergencies, with special attention to those who are non-English speakers, have disabilities, or have certain functional needs. 


“Over the last three years and a half, we have taken major steps forward in emergency preparedness, and this report is just the latest example of that effort,” said Governor Malloy. “This interim report establishes a more comprehensive framework to help overcome communication barriers during emergency situations.  But make no mistake; there is more work to be done over the coming months and I look forward to supporting efforts to improve communications with all citizens. I would like to thank Commissioner Schriro and all of the members of the committee for their outstanding work and commitment to enhance preparedness response in Connecticut.”


Some of the immediate actions being administered by the state include:


·         Recognizing that Spanish is the second most common language spoken in Connecticut, the Governor’s Office will create a translation services pilot in which materials will be translated into Spanish during emergency activations of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

·         A sign language interpreter will now be at every Governor’s press conference at the State Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

·         All radio and television broadcasters will be educated on the availability of the Connecticut Television Network (CT-N) as a source of live feeds during activations of the State EOC.

·         The public will be encouraged to sign up for the state/local Emergency Notification System at Public Service Announcements are currently running on television and radio.


“Governor Malloy and Lt. Governor Wyman have led us through some of the toughest days our state has ever seen,” said Commissioner Dora B. Schriro. “The work of this Taskforce illustrates their continuing commitment to public safety by improving our emergency communications with non-English speaking residents and citizens with disabilities.”


With the traditional height of hurricane season in Connecticut running from August to November, Governor Malloy determined that a report on emergency communications should be submitted by August 1, 2014, followed by a report on non-emergency communications with recommendations no later than January 1, 2015. The primary goal of the emergency communications portion of the Governor’s charge was to enhance preparedness and response by bolstering current best practices and implementing new practices to communicate successfully with all of the state’s residents during dangerous weather events, significant public safety threats and other emergency situations.


“We are proud of the work we've done to improve our communications efforts with our citizens with disabilities, including things such as ensuring interpreters for the deaf and hard of hearing community are at every emergency press conference. It is critically important for all of us to recognize that communication is a collaboration,” said the Governor’s Liaison to the Disability Community Jonathan Slifka. “With respect to our disability community, we recognize that we have a significant population that we can reach out to and help. It is our hope that our efforts encourage those who may have not self-identified as someone who may need assistance to do so in order that we may improve our efforts.”


In order to implement these recommendations, the Taskforce will continue to meet and work together through the remainder of the summer and this fall as a subcommittee of the Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS) Statewide Advisory Council.  The Taskforce will also continue to meet as the statewide Emergency Support Function (ESF) 15 External Affairs working group.  In addition, members of this larger ESF 15 group may be convened as a mission-centric Taskforce to assist the Governor’s Unified Command to address public messaging issues that may arise during an emergency activation of the State Emergency Operations Center (EOC), which is the state’s central point of emergency management.


“I was very pleased to serve on the Taskforce, working with its members and so many of the state’s broadcast engineers on developing a strategy to more effectively interconnect CT-N’s coverage of emergency briefings from the State Armory with Connecticut’s news media,” said Paul Giguere, President & CEO of the Connecticut Public Affairs Network, CT-N’s management organization.  “Years ago, the General Assembly showed great foresight by including the Emergency Operations Center in the network’s mandate and infrastructure. It has been a privilege to work with the Taskforce to better leverage that investment and get the word out about this vital public service.”


The 28-member Taskforce is made up of a cross-section of representatives from state agencies, non-profit organizations, the media, including Spanish and Portuguese media outlets and individuals from the diverse communities across Connecticut. 

During the 2012 Legislative Session, the Governor pushed for passage of the “Storm Bill,” which imposed tougher penalties on utility companies if they didn’t meet certain staffing benchmarks before a storm hits or restoration deadlines in the aftermath of a weather related event. The bill also improved training for first responders and enhanced communications protocols between utility companies and state and local government. To learn more about that bill, click here.


**Download: An Interim Report by the Governor’s Emergency Communications Taskforce



Content Last Modified on 8/28/2014 3:46:55 PM