Deaf Youth Disaster Experiences & Action | What’s Up WID

Ashley: Hello everyone and welcome to a very special edition of What’s Up WID, the World Institute on Disability podcast where we discuss What’s Up in the Disability Community across the globe. If you’re new here, I’m your host Ashley Inkumsah and on today’s episode, I’m honored to share with you a conversation between deaf students at Gallaudet University, in which they discussed their disaster-related experiences, and their recommendations to address community, regional, and national disaster preparedness.

Neha Balachondran, a graduate student in Gallaudet University’s International Development program, who also holds a Masters degree in Deaf Education hosted the conversation between Gallaudet University students Olufemi Ige and Ai Minakawa.

Olufemi Ige is the In-Country Project Manager (IcPM) for Deaf-E3 Activity, a three-year USAID sponsored project to strengthen Deaf Education, Empowerment, and Employment in Nigeria. Olufemi is a GU Alumnus with M.A. degrees in International Development and Public Administration, and a member of the Nigerian National Association of the Deaf (NNAD).

Ai Minakawa is the first deaf person who became a registered nurse in Japan. She served deaf seniors at a nursing home and created health educational materials in Japanese Sign Language collaborating with different organizations such as the National Cancer Center and the National Information and Culture Center for the deaf. She was a recipient of the Nippon Foundation Scholarship Program for the Deaf Studying Abroad and obtained a Master’s degree in Deaf Studies at Gallaudet University in 2021.

So without further adieu, I hope you enjoy this insightful conversation between Neha, Olufemi and Ai.

Neha:
Hello everyone! Welcome to today’s vodcast. First let me start by introducing myself. My name is Neha Balachandran, yes that’s a very long last name *laugh* so you can just use my sign name which is the letter “N” by the corner of my mouth.

Ai: Neha, nice to meet you!

Neha: Nice to meet you too. I am currently a second year graduate student in the international development program here at Gallaudet University. I also already have a Masters degree in deaf education. One of my strongest beliefs is to educate deaf youth of the future on how to deal with and prepare for disasters or whatever is to come. That is what we will be going more into detail about in this discussion. The topic we are focusing on in this vodcast is specifically “Deaf Youth Experiences and Disaster Action”. The two other panelists that will be discussing this topic are first Olufemi Ige, his sign name is “F” tapped by the heart. Olufemi is a Project Manager at USAID and here at Gallaudet University. The project he is involved in is Deaf-E3 which focuses on strengthening deaf education and increasing employment opportunities in preparation for establishing Gallaudet University in Nigeria.

Olufemi: Exactly, thank you.

Neha: Our second panelist is Ai Minakawa, and this is her name sign. She is a Research Associate with the Deaf Health Equity Center at Gallaudet University. She isn’t just a Research Associate though, she is also a registered nurse in Japan! I’d like to give you two my warmest welcomes for being a part of this discussion today.

Olufemi: Thank you!

Ai: Thank you!

Neha: Again, thank you so much for coming here today. I really appreciate your time and I think it’s so cool that we’re all in different time zones and are coming together to have this conversation. I’d like to start with a general question for you two- could you two go into detail about some of the crises, disasters, and threats that are happening in your countries? Who’d like to start?

Olufemi: I can start, first off thank you Neha for that warm introduction. Also, thank you for inviting me to join this discussion today. Disasters and emergency management is a very important topic. I am from Nigeria which is in Western Africa. More specifically Nigeria shares a border with Cameroon to the East, Chad in the North-East, Niger to the North, Benin on the west border and shares the southern border with the Gulf of Guinea which is in the Atlantic ocean. Also, Nigeria is the most heavily populated country in Africa with over 206 million people living there according to the World Bank. With that many people living here you can imagine there is a large deaf population. The most pressing natural disaster for quite some time has been flooding. Obviously we have both environmental crises and man made problems too. For example, we have problems with erosion, car crashes and severe fires. According to the Red Cross, there have been over 160,000 fatalities in Nigeria due to those natural disasters. In September of last year many people were dealing with these crises and as a result they were displaced from their homes. Those disasters affect a lot of people with disabilities too.

Neha: Oh yeah, I am sure!

Olufemi: Exactly, so those are some of the situations Nigeria is facing now in regards to your question. Thank you for letting me share, now I’ll hand it off to Ai?

Neha: Yes, Olufemi, what you went into detail about is very serious! With Nigeria having such a big population I’m sure those problems impact so many people. Again thank you for sharing, now I’ll pass it off to Ai.

Ai: Hello! I just want to give a huge thanks to the team leading this important project, and thank you for inviting me to join you for this vodcast, I feel very honored to be a part of this and I’m looking forward to this conversation! Again, my name is Ai and I’m from the big city of Tokyo, Japan. Growing up, earthquakes happened fairly often. In fact, 10% of the earthquakes that happen worldwide happen in Japan. We would have them almost every day, ranging from small ones to extremely serious ones.

Neha: Really, everyday??

Ai: Yes! Sometimes they are tiny earthquakes that you can barely notice,

Neha: And this is still happening now?

Ai: They can get to be as severe as a 6 or 7 on the Richter scale which causes a lot of damage to the city. Not only do we have earthquakes here but we also have tsunamis that cause major destruction to the city and the people in it. Just recently back on March 11th, 2011 we had a very big earthquake in Northeast Japan. At that time I was living in Tokyo which is quite far from where the earthquake happened, but even so I could still feel it and we lost power locally. When that happened I was very fortunate that my neighbor, who is very nice and knows that my whole family and I are Deaf, kept me up to date with what was going on and shared information, however limited, by showing me things on their phone and writing back and forth with me. I’m really grateful for that and for the support from the community.

Neha: That’s really nice that your neighbor supported you like that!

Ai: That support is crucial, but some [Deaf] people don’t have experiences like that unfortunately. All of these earthquakes, floods, landslides, and really any natural disasters that are destroying homes seem to be happening due to the recent issues of global warming and climate change. For months on end I’ve seen flooding happening and people needing to evacuate. Those are the two most common natural disasters that I’m seeing here, earthquakes and flooding.

Neha: Wow, that’s a lot!I was wondering, you mentioned that your whole family is deaf, is there a large deaf population in Japan as well, can you tell us more about that?

Ai: Yes, so based on the government’s research, the population of individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have some type of  hearing loss  is around 200,000 people. However, the population of individuals who are deaf and use sign language is about 50,000 people.

Neha: Wow! That lack of [access to] information during these disasters is quite noticeable, Ai you were lucky to have your neighbor there to support you through that, and your family supporting each other as well. It really shows that having access to communication and that information can make an impact in these types of situations and can show us how to better support eachother during these times. Thank you for sharing that so we could have a better understanding of your country and everything going on there, that was great! For this next question I’d like to start with Olufemi- in Nigeria, what types of concerns have Deaf individuals shared with you about disasters and emergency response? We just touched upon the lack of access, but could you dive deeper into that?

Olufemi: Sure, thank you Neha, that’s a really good question! The deaf community here in Nigeria have expressed their concerns regarding emergency response and the number one issue is definitely lack of [access to] information. When these disasters happen, Deaf individuals typically aren’t aware of what is actually going on because they don’t have access to that information. For example, sometimes the government will be able to predict when a natural disaster may happen due to climate change so they will start to televise the issue, but there are no interpreters to provide access to this information about protective measures, what to do in preparation for this disaster, they don’t have access to ANY of that. Another concern that Deaf individuals have shared with me is that government officials typically get together to discuss emergency response plans, preventative measures, the plans for sharing resources in the future with all levels of government, but they never invite Deaf leaders to join in these discussions and share how the Deaf community can be informed and benefit from these resources. All preventative measures are shared with the hearing public but this raises that concern that most of the time the way the government decides to share this information is not a way that the Deaf community can understand. Deaf individuals’ natural language is sign language so if that information is not translated into sign, then Deaf people will not feel involved and will not be able to benefit from it.

Neha: Right!

Olufemi: So with that being said, when these disasters happen it has a very serious impact on the Deaf community. For example, last year in Lekki, a city in Lagos State, Nigeria, many people, including young people, were protesting against the government and police brutality. The police were killing young people without cause. Many people wanted to get out there and protest against this to try and open up the government’s eyes and stop this brutality from happening. The next thing we know, an army was sent over and opened fire on the protestors. Just imagine Deaf people in that situation, how can they be aware of and understand what’s really happening without any access to that information?

Neha: Right, exactly!

Olufemi: That’s one of the concerns that Deaf individuals have shared with me here, the communication barriers that they face with no access to information presented in sign language. That’s all I have to say, thank you.

Neha: Wow, that um…I think, ah, that does tie into what you said about the lack of Deaf representation in the government when discussing these disasters. Really I’m just mindblown about how able bodied congressmen or government officials don’t consider those minorities and just dismiss them thinking that they can figure it out for themselves when really that’s not the case. That has a serious impact on the Deaf community, and not just Deaf people but individuals who are DeafBlind, Deaf plus, really all minority groups. When things like that happen, it shows that the government doesn’t care about those people and that NEEDS to change. There needs to be more representation within the government during those discussions and with that they should provide more resources and support during these crises. So that actually ties into my next question, Nigeria is a very large and diverse country so I’m wondering how that lack of access to information impacts the resources that are available. Are there resources available to Deaf, DeafBlind, and Deaf plus individuals during these emergencies? We already covered that there is a definite lack of access to information but now I’m curious about what kind of resources are available for these groups.

Olufemi: Right, that’s a good and honest question. With that lack of communication, there really is no way for the Deaf community to know what resources are available because they simply don’t have access to them.

Neha: Right, that makes sense.

Olufemi: Deaf people could have access to these disaster and emergency resources by having access to the information that the government has already released regarding the disasters. The lack of access seriously increases the risk of these emergencies impacting the Deaf community.

Neha: Yeah!

Olufemi: Yes, and another impact that has on the Deaf community is making them feel more excluded from society. For so long we have been fighting for the government to break down the barriers that the Deaf community face but the lack of information and resources and there being no way to prepare for these crises seriously affects Deaf individuals. It increases displacement and also increases the impact of flooding because when that happens, there’s no access to communication about what’s going on, how to evacuate, and what to do in those situations.

Neha: That’s exactly right, that lack of access really affects the ability to accumulate and share resources with other communities. It’s truly a vicious cycle of negative impacts. Wow…Did you want to add something?

Olufemi: Well another thing I want to mention is that when the government doesn’t include Deaf leaders who know how to get through to Deaf individuals that are stuck in these disasters and emergency situations it essentially means that there is no way for them to support the Deaf community. The government officials don’t know how to communicate or share information with Deaf people, AND if a Deaf person is stuck in this type of emergency situation, there’s no emergency hotline with an interpreter that they can call or anything like that. Without these resources, Deaf people in Nigeria are definitely more at risk during these crises.

Neha: Absolutely, yes. Wow, alright now I have a follow up question for you- do you know if the Deaf community is trying to do anything about this to spread awareness about this issue?

Olufemi: Yeah! Yes, the Deaf community is involved with press conferences and public relations, and they want to advocate for themselves and discuss the challenges that they face here in Nigeria. That’s mainly it, but their goal is to create awareness by meeting with government officials and congress to educate them on the obstacles we are facing. We are grateful for the new Commission for Persons with Disabilities that the president of Nigeria established.

Neha: Wow that’s great!

Olufemi: Yes, they’re trying their best to make sure that the government is aware that there are people living with disabilities who haven’t been given access to resources or information that could help them in these situations. Many people in the northern part of Nigeria, are facing a lot of terrorism and Deaf people are dealing with that as well. This new disability commission is making an effort to create awareness within the government about our challenges.

Neha: Well that’s great to hear, I’m happy to know that the Deaf community is taking action and the fact that a new disability commission was established is really the first step! I’m excited to see the upcoming efforts that will be made to address these issues.

Olufemi: Thank you.

Neha: Thank you so much Olufemi.

Olufemi: Of course.

Neha: Great. Now I’d like to turn the floor over to Ai and I’m going to ask the same question- in Japan, what kind of concerns are Deaf individuals sharing with you about disasters and emergency response? For example, triage, medical follow ups, trauma counseling, and other services like that, could you share more about that?

Ai: Regarding health care services like triage, follow up appointments, and trauma therapy, I have definintely noticed lack of access and communication barriers with doctors and nurses which has led to frustration. Also, when doing triage and assessing the order of treatment and who to prioritize it is all based on sound. For example, if someone is seriously injured they may be unconsious and unable to wake up. Hearing nurses and doctors typically try to elicit a response by speaking to them and if that doesn’t work, they might pinch them; that’s usually the approach of hearing people in those situations. However, that’s definitely not an effective approach for Deaf people! Maybe that Deaf person isn’t unconscious but their eyes are closed or they’re asleep and the doctors failed to notice that and gave them an incorrect diagnosis or the wrong treatment. That triaging process is designed for hearing people as it’s based on sound and their voice, clearly it is not appropriate for Deaf individuals. Most doctors and nurses are aware that there are Deaf people who need access to communication and know that it’s important, but the fact that this process for triaging is geared towards hearing people is often overlooked, they need to consider how to adjust their methods to better serve Deaf individuals.

Ai: Another thing to consider about triage is that these situations are real emergencies where time is precious, so doctors and nurses are very busy trying to treat every person that they can in a short period of time. This usually means that their hands are always doing something, whether it’s checking the patient’s injuries, assessing their body, administering medications, their hands are occupied. Hearing people can speak and communicate with the doctors while this is happening, but Deaf people need to write back and forth or gesture in order to communicate, so how can that happen if the doctors and nurses don’t have time? I truly feel that in these situations the healthcare professionals need to be paired with a communication specialist, it would make a huge difference.

Ai: I also feel that doctors, nurses, and any professionals need to be more aware of how to prepare and adapt in those situations to accommodate Deaf people. On another note, my grandfather grew up in Miyagi which is in Northeast Japan where severe earthquakes have happened. He went to a school for the deaf where his classmates were Deaf and there were many Deaf people there- well not many, the area is close to the beach so some of them passed away due to tsunamis. The people who survived the tsunamis have shared stories about living in shelters and they have said that their experiences were awful. When providing food to the people in the shelter there would be someone explaining the process in spoken Japanese, but Deaf people wouldn’t have access to that information. Everyone in the shelters were exhausted from this stressful situation, plus Deaf people didn’t have access to anyinformation in sign language. So while the hearing people were also stressed, Deaf people had the additional stress of lack of access. They didn’t want to go back home, and some of their homes were destroyed anyway, but they really suffered through those times. Also, at the shelter there were nurses and doctors ready to take care of people and have follow up care or treatment but the people who were still at home were completely neglected, they couldn’t even call 911. In those situations, outreach is really important in order to provide support to those who need it and not forsake them. At the same time, however, knowing that those people are out there needing help is a challenge that needs to be addressed. There’s really many challenges that overlap but we need to break them down and figure out how to approach and overcome them which is not an easy task. Our preparation should include knowing how to focus on unpacking the underlying issues within one challenge.

Neha: For sure,wow. Clearly that information needs to be shared through sign language. When you were discussing families having to move away from the tsunamis, there was a plethora of services provided for the hearing people who had access to it. In turn, that information was spread through word of mouth but the deaf population didn’t have access to the same information. They should have people there who can sign, maybe they aren’t from the government but they could just be people who support the deaf community. That anecdote you gave is just one example of why information should be accessible in sign language. That loss of accessibility ultimately impacts the quality of health services, and can put them at risk. For example right after surgery not having access to information could cause the patient’s health to decline rather than get better as intended. I have another question for you, could you go into more detail about how that lack of accommodation for the deaf population impacts their ability to get quality health services?

Ai: Sure, so access to communication is the key here. If we look at the deaf person’s experience you will have a common experience of a deaf person growing up with hearing parents and having to go to the doctor. Typically the parents will end up leading the conversation while the deaf child is stuck wondering what they are talking about. Due to that lack of access during their upbringing it ends up dictating how they interact with doctors when they are adults. Typically doctors will explain things like the nature of an injury or will explain why they decide to give you a medication and what it’s exactly for, but without access that information is not shared with the patient. If there’s an emergency and that deaf person has to go to a hospital, the hospital might ask “what medicine are you taking?” because they might not have it on file or their data system might be down. In that type of situation the patient should have access to that information about their medical history. Again, in those emergency situations communication is crucial but it is also important to think about that person’s upbringing as a child where they did not learn how to interact with doctors and didn’t get the information that hearing people are accustomed to getting. Understanding that is the key to improving communication.

Olufemi: Yeah.

Neha: Olufemi did you want to add something?

Olufemi: Yeah, I want to add on what Ai was saying. We do have similar situations in Nigeria, for example some deaf women will go to the emergency room at night and when they try communicating to the nurse or doctor the medical staff don’t know how to communicate with a deaf person. That can lead to deaf women not getting treatment or the medicine they need and they can lose their lives. That’s why it is important for not only government institutions but other service providers to give access to the deaf population so that more deaf women’s lives aren’t lost. Really these problems are all connected to communication.

Neha: Yes I agree Olufemi, really communication is such an important basic need. Ai since you are a registered nurse in Japan you must see first hand deaf people needing access to this information.

Ai: Yup exactly.

Neha: Would you mind sharing an experience about how you provide support or assistance to those patients?

Ai: Of course, I used to work as a nurse in a senior care facility that primarily took care of deaf individuals, I believe we had 70 deaf individuals there at the time. The people there needed medical assistance from the nurses but we would also provide assistance with daily activities such as walking with them to the hospital. One thing I noticed while there was the facility would provide interpreters but the interpreters would miss little bits of information which are actually quite important.  Some patients might have psychological or emotional problems and will typically sign clear but then one day you notice they are signing either with really high energy or really low. That information can be hard for an interpreter to catch and make an accurate statement about what they said. Those interpreters might not work alongside those patients everyday and might start to catch their habits but sometimes won’t. There are quite a few flaws with the interpreting system right now. I think something that is also necessary is knowing who the patient is as a person, knowing their medical history and signing style. It should also be noted that being with that patient for the long term is best for them as well.

Neha: I think that’s an interesting point you bring up, even though there is an interpreter there they might still miss small facial cues or misunderstand something which means the deaf person is not getting full access. Those interpretations being skewed will affect how the nurses and doctors treat and help the patients too. Wow, I mean, wow!

Ai: You’re right, those interpreters don’t see those patients’ everyday lives like us nurses, for example they might just show up to the hospital not knowing what normal behavior for that patient is. I think how the interpreting model works needs to be changed.

Neha: Thank you so much for sharing Ai, it’s been really interesting hearing both your experiences in government and medical settings. Through both of your stories we can see how that lack of access has a huge impact in not just one setting but all settings. With that being said, what actions do we need to take to prevent this from continuing or what resources do we need? I’m sure you two have some thoughts or ideas on that. Olufemi you could talk about the committee being created and Ai you could share some ideas you have. Who wants to share first?

Olufemi: Sure. Action is a major step that needs to be taken. The government should always try their best to include Deaf leaders in any disaster or emergency planning. They should meet with the hearing officials to discuss how they can share disaster information with a minority that for so long has been ignored by the government. Another action that will be beneficial is for the government and different organizations to develop resources in sign language which will help the deaf community lower their risks of harm during an emergency. Thank you.

Neha: Yes! I think you made some really good points. Now Ai, do you have any ideas on how to fix this issue or find the solution for it?

Ai: I do. Olufemi your point about addressing the issue at the macro level, that the government must actively involve the deaf community is important. Luckily in Japan we have the Japanese Federation of the Deaf which is a large national organization. They advocated at the government level to include the mentioning of deaf people in laws connected to crisis management.  They have yet to determine exactly how this will work, but this is a big first step for the deaf community in Japan. We then have to determine how this law will be implemented and enforced. Who can work closely with the deaf community? In the medical field there are not many deaf professionals with the necessary training who can help with educating those deaf individuals to work in this field. In Japan there is a very limited number of Deaf doctors and nurses. I know very few deaf professionals who in an emergency have the training to adequately help and support the deaf community. We need to train more people to increase these numbers. At the same time health care providers also need to improve as well, doctors and nurses don’t know how to interact with a deaf person. Medical staff are constantly providing access to the name of medicines or the medical processes and we have to find a way to provide that same access to the deaf population. We have the capability to start that now, so why not? I have gone to a university for nurses and taught the students how to interact with deaf patients. We came up with different scenarios and discussed how they should handle the specific situation, as well as brainstormed different ideas so when an emergency happens they will have a plan ready. We also need to provide education for deaf parents and children so they can have a plan when an emergency happens. Japan teaches K-12 what to do if there is an earthquake like how to protect themselves from debris, but those teachings aren’t provided in sign language. If there was a situation where everyone had to go to a shelter how would they get information from the hearing people there? That’s never discussed and when it happens they’ll have no idea what to do. We should start having these discussions in elementary and kindergarten so when those kids grow up they will be ready and could help the medical field.

Neha: Right! Teaching the youth to prepare for these natural disasters is where we should be starting.The government definitely needs better resources to teach professionals how to provide access to this information but I think starting in schools is where we should begin. The teachers can provide resources in the classroom and this philosophy can be shared with deaf institutes in other countries too. When the teachers are given the resources to teach with, they can figure out how to describe it in a way that accommodates all the children. With that idea, everyone starts to get involved in teaching, the youth also start to take action at a young age. They can be given a problem and asked how can you resolve this? So later in the future they know how to be involved in resolving a situation. So to wrap up, how can deaf youth be involved in the process of how to respond to a disaster? How do you think deaf youth can be involved when disasters happen in the future? Do either of you have any thoughts or ideas?

Olufemi: Yeah, so one way young children can be involved is to think of activities. Those activities will develop skills to recognize when a crisis is happening and how to protect themselves and also help other people who are in the same situation and don’t know what to do. And, they can also be provided some trainings. Those can be provided both in their homes and in their curriculum at school. That training will help them solve any disaster situation they find themselves in.

Neha: Yeah you’re right, that training should start in their curriculum so when something happens they know what tools they have so they can roll up their sleeves and be more involved. Ai do you have anything to add?

Ai: Back when I was growing up, in elementary school they would have a presenter come to our class and give a lecture in spoken Japanese. I was in a public school so I didn’t understand what the presenter was saying. Yes Japan has had many crises but learning about them in that way was not really my thing. The lecture was very broad but I wanted something more focused on concrete examples about how to react in those situations, and more of a discussion rather than lecture. Having an interactive and discussion based education in a school curriculum will be beneficial because the kids will know what to do in those situations. It is also important to center Deaf people in this conversation and curriculum development. Also the Japanese Federation of the Deaf (JFD) is also very proactive in this work. However, the board is mostly made up of older people so the youth today don’t really look up to them as an example, well some people look up to them and see how they act during a crisis, but that relatability and mentorship is not always there. JFD works at a variety of levels, and especially at the highest macro-level, young people are not engaged. Making those individual connections and providing young people with examples of how to respond to disaster is one way to increase this knowledge. I noticed the generational gap was huge where the older people know what to do in a crisis whereas the younger generation does not. I think we need to bridge that gap to be able to learn from one another. Young people have new ideas, technologies and systems where they can practice their ideas. You know, kids nowadays they grow up with technology so they already have that mastered. So really they can teach the older population new skills  and vice versa.

Olufemi: Yes I agree with that.

Neha: Definitely!

Olufemi: And there’s something I’d like to add. So, one thing that I would like to add about this is that there’s another way children can be encouraged to participate, and that is by developing volunteer programs. This can encourage children to engage with active organizations that are already involved in the management and response to disasters and emergency situations. By doing this it will help them develop practical skills rather than theoretical knowledge that they learn through the curriculumin schools. The curriculum has a lot of useful information but children need to be able to develop the practical skills needed for these situations and volunteer programs can help with that. I just wanted to add that, thank you.

Neha: You both really said it all, wow! One thing that really stood out to me was Ai’s comment about children watching those lectures and just nodding along out of boredom, it’s clear that they are not motivated to get involved which is why we need more hands-on activities to encourage them to be proactive and develop the necessary skills. As you mentioned Olufemi, they should be encouraged to join volunteer programs that can provide them the opportunity to get involved so they can be better prepared for the future. What you’ve both shared with me was beautifully said. Alright…do either of you have any last comments…? Okay, well I think we’ll wrap it up now..?

Olufemi: Yes we can wrap up. First I’d like to say thank you to you, Neha, and the others involved with setting this vodcast up, it’s really helpful in creating awareness about the importance of motivating younger generations. Also training them to be better prepared in responding to disasters and emergency situations. It will also be nice when the government and other international organizations get involved with disaster and emergency planning and start supporting other national Deaf organizations more because several of those organizations do not have the support they need to be prepared for these crises. More specifically some of these organizations are struggling with the financial support to provide human resources to those involved in the emergency situations. It would also be nice to prioritize translating resources for these disasters into sign language so that Deaf individuals can have access to that information and how to put that information to use.

Neha: Yes, right, exactly- I mean, you said it all! I want to thank you both so much for joining me today, I greatly appreciate you sharing your thoughts and experiences, thank you for being here. I really enjoyed this discussion with you both.

Olufemi: Sure, thank you!

Ai: Thank you so much as well!

Neha: Thanks again, I hope you both have an amazing day, or night depending on where you are! *laugh* Alright, bye!

Olufemi: Bye now.

Ai: Bye!

Ashley: What an incredible conversation between Neha, Olufemi and Ai. What really struck me is the parallels between Olufemi’s experiences in Nigeria and Ai’s experiences in Japan and really overall as we reflect back on the two prior events in our Deaf-Led Disaster Resilience Series, where we have had Deaf leaders who have worked in the disaster realm in across the globe in countries like Vietnam, Trinidad & Tobago, Japan, Haiti and Australia, we learn that the lack of accessible emergency communication in sign language, as well as the lack of inclusion of the Deaf community in disaster preparedness, often leads to deadly outcomes. So we implore governments to prioritize the inclusion of the Deaf community on a local, national and international level because not doing so is costing the Deaf community and the disability community overall their lives. Thank you to Neha, Olufemi and Ai for this thought-provoking conversation and thank you to all of you for tuning in to our Deaf Youth Disaster Experiences & 

Action special edition podcast as well as the previous events in our series. Lastly, we would like to thank Gallaudet University for collaborating with us for the Deaf-Led Disaster Resilience series. Together, we raised awareness about the lack of inclusion of the Deaf community in disasters and we could not have done it without you. You can find previous episodes of our podcast on all major podcasting platforms and on our website http://www.wid.org , which also includes American Sign language and transcripts. Thank you once again for tuning in.

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