Hello, my name is Claude Stout and I am with Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (TDI) near Washington, DC.
Welcome to Its Our World Too!
I would like to tell you about the upcoming test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) scheduled for November 9th at 2:00pm Eastern Standard Time, or 11:00am Pacific Standard Time on the West Coast.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and National Weather Service (NWS), will be testing the government's ability to provide emergency news to everyone through television and radio, in case there is a national emergency.
The purpose of the test is to see how the EAS system will work in case public safety officials have to send an emergency alert to a large region of the country.
This might be in preparation for a major hurricane, tornadoes or any potential disaster affecting a large portion of our population.
There is no reason to be concerned about this test and there is nothing you need to do.
In 1997, EAS was put into place when it replaced the Emergency Broadcast System.
There were three levels of getting the information out.
The EAS system was designed to let people know of local and regional severe weather emergencies and other disasters, and to allow the President of the United States to speak to the entire country within ten minutes of a national emergency such as war.
The mayor of a town or an elected county official could get the message out about an imminent disaster.
If a disaster has a bigger impact than on just one town, the governor gets involved.
Disasters that cover several states or the entire nation will call for federal government efforts and announcements from the president.
Fortunately, EAS or previous alerting systems have never been activated during well-known events over the last 50 years such as for the Cuban Missile Crisis, assassinations, the Oklahoma City bombing, major earthquakes, 9/11 and other recent high-alert terrorist warnings.
Those high-profile events were covered first by the news media such as ABC, CBS and NBC in the early days.
Today we also have CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and many other channels.
There was a major flaw in the EAS system design.
Information could only be broadcast in audio through radio and television.
The system was not designed to carry visual information.
Due to limits in technology, there may not be any visual information being broadcast and sometimes the local station may only show a plain screen with text similar to this.
The EAS is used frequently for natural and man-made disasters on the local and state levels.
There has never been a nationwide top to bottom activation of EAS to test for a real emergency.
The government has already begun to revamp the nation's emergency alerting systems including EAS and other systems.
The FCC and FEMA understand the need for this information to be fully accessible and they are working very hard to overcome these challenges and develop a truly accessible emergency alerting system.
For this accessible alerting system to be completed, it's necessary for this test to occur on Wednesday, November 9th, 2011 at 2pm Eastern Time or 11am Pacific Time
This nationwide test will last a little longer than previous tests, about 3 minutes to see how the information flows from the federal to state levels.
All radio and television stations are required to participate and some stations may put a visual announcement before, during or after the test saying, "This is a test"
It's important to understand that maybe there will not be any visual information on some cable systems, so we're letting you know now that the test is coming up and you shouldn't be scared.
In the future, we will be able to receive alerts not just from television or radio.
Soon, we will get notification of emergencies through our computers or through our mobile phones as well. (hold up phone)
For more information about how this EAS test may affect you, please visit:
Other Helpful Resources
Please pass this important information on to your family, friends and anyone you know who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Please remember, this is only a test and you do not need to do anything.
We want you to know now that the test will be on November 9th at 2:00pm Eastern Standard Time or 11:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time.
I am Claude Stout from TDI.
Again, thank you for joining us and help us shape an accessible world!