WFO Nashville Meteorologist Intern Trevor Boucher conducts spotter training class for the deaf and hard of hearing (Photo: WFO Nashville)
(Feb. 3, 2012) - The National Weather Service forecast office in Nashville, Tenn. joined forces with the local Red Cross and a hearing support organization called Bridges to offer a storm spotter class for the deaf and hard of hearing. In what may be the first of its kind in the nation, Nashville Meteorologist Intern Trevor Boucher conducted the class for about 50 deaf or hard of hearing people January 26, at the Nashville Red Cross Chapter auditorium.
Boucher notes that most of the current methods for alerting people of severe weather require the ability to hear and there is nothing to be done about that.
"What we can do is educate the deaf and hard or hearing to what they can see during these events," said Boucher. "Then they won't have to rely on the things that require hearing."
In addition to teaching the basics of thunderstorm development, storm structure, cloud formations and other severe weather features and safety precautions; the class emphasized the use of National Weather Service web sites, Facebook, Twitter and smart phone applications to be prepared for severe weather events. Boucher's presentation was augmented with a captioning service and experienced signers.
"As I understand it, this was the first ever spotter training for the deaf and hard of hearing," said Joel Sullivan of the Nashville Red Cross Chapter. "What a great evening it was for three agencies to come together and learn about weather spotting. The crowd was very attentive and appreciative."
While he says his skills are a bit rusty these days, Boucher learned to sign in High School in Austin, Texas and continued during his college years. He says, "I had a lot of friends who were deaf or hard of hearing and I became passionate about the deaf culture."
According to a study by the Gallaudet Research Institute in Washington, D.C., an estimated four of every 1,000 people in the United State is "functionally deaf" and approximately 14 percent of the entire population has some level of trouble with their hearing.