JSU Newswire
Jacksonville, Alabama

JSU Student Develops Weather Alert Device for Hearing-Impaired Population

Abby Knight
JSU News Bureau

JACKSONVILLE -- August 22, 2002 -- Jim Davis, a Jacksonville State University distance learning student who lives in Virginia, has come up with an idea to help hearing-impaired people get weather alerts and other emergency messages even if they're asleep.

Davis, who first described his idea in a term paper he wrote for his emergency management course through JSU's on-line program, developed a device that converts existing NOAA-type (National Ocean and Atmosphere Association) weather alerts into lighted, vibrating signals, which warn hearing-impaired citizens of impending weather hazards.

Davis, emergency manager/coordinator for Pittsylvania County in Virginia, contacted a radio manufacturer who was producing a color-coded LCD screen. On the monitor during a weather emergency, the type and level of emergency is described in text. The word "tornado" appears with a red signal that indicates a warning; yellow means tornado watch, and green means advisory.

Davis added an output jack that comes with the unit and enables users to connect a flashing strobe light and a pillow vibrator, which is manufactured by the same company. Each unit can be programmed for a specific locality.

Davis developed the idea while taking a JSU class called “Populations at Risk” taught by Dr. Brenda Phillips through the Institute of Emergency Preparedness.

“Dr. Phillips wanted me to focus on not just the recognition (of vulnerabilities of certain populations) but on how to help them improve their quality of life before, during and after a disaster,” Davis said.

In a partnership with the Danville (Virginia) Department of Emergency Management and the hearing-impaired coordinator at nearby Danville Community College, Davis was able to purchase the modified radios for nearly three dozen hearing-impaired residents in the Danville Metropolitan area.

Davis said he hopes other localities will form partnerships to recognize and help those who are at risk.


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