Anyone living in a Fort Worth zip code can sign up at www.ftwahas.deaflink.com to receive text and email alerts on emergencies such as severe weather, train derailments, industrial vehicle accidents, and chemical fires, the city and Deaf Link said. The service is free, and residents don’t have to demonstrate an impairment to sign up for it.
Residents who sign up for the service would receive their messages via mobile devices such as smartphones and iPads, and via computer.
The Accessible Hazard Alert System would send the alerts whenever outdoor warning sirens are activated for national, state, manmade, or weather emergencies.
Juan Ortiz, the city’s emergency management coordinator, said the partners are also interested in having Spanish-translated alerts and working with a partner that could send alerts via landline telephone to people who don’t have text message and email access.
Mayor Betsy Price estimated the city has 20,800 residents with hearing impairments, and 14,500 with vision impairments.
"Public safety is one of our No. 1 concerns in Fort Worth," Price said. "It should be offered at the same level to all of our citizens."
Kay Chiodo, chief executive of Deaf Link, a San Antonio provider of communications access services, said hearing and vision-impaired people have "waited a long, long time" for the service.
The partners tested the service in January, and it’s already up and running, Ortiz said.
- Scott Nishimura, Star-Telegram Fort Worth City Hall reporter