2024_01 Week 4 Reflections

While I like all of our discussion board assignments (or I wouldn’t include them), the discussion on accessibility is always one of my favorites.  Should we talk about the potential for bias here 😊

This topic always reminds me to focus on how I can improve my skills in communicating with others.  It’s also a recognition that our own communications needs can change over time.  My 93 yo mother never mastered her cell phone, despite trying a few different models.  And now I find that I’m using resources designed for Alzheimer’s patients to improve her ability to communicate and stay connected with the world.  While she doesn’t have that specific dx, she has experienced declining memory capability.  I’ve recently provided her with a push button phone with pictures of family and friends so that she can call the person she wants without the additional barrier of having to remember which speed dial button or how to use a handheld phone.  She relies on her computer for access to others as well and we’ve worked on various systems for me to ensure that I can help her from afar since she lives in assisted living.  It has been fascinating to see how small changes in the tools she uses enhances her ability to stay connected with her inner circle. It will be a major accomplishment if I can ever figure out the right tool for her TV since she is disinclined to learn how to use the Voice Command options or listen to audible books.  Always a journey and one that I remind myself is providing learning opportunities for what I may need in the future.

Some of you spoke to the needs of seniors and their challenges around evacuation. My daughter participated in cleanup for a house that was flooded during the July floods in VT.  The homeowner mentioned that he didn’t evacuate as the flood waters were coming up to the second level of the house due to his elderly father’s lack of mobility and the fact that he owned a pit bull that would not have stayed in the boat.  Responders are faced with a variety of situations that need to be addressed on so many different levels.

I use this module to share a story I heard a few years after Katrina.  I heard a presentation from a fire chief who was part of the NOLA response team.  He shared that the planning teams had reached out to find out how many people in the community required wheelchairs.  Since this is not intended to be a true case study, let us say that there were 500 people who responded to the survey.  When the responders were faced with the very real task of evacuating people who relied on wheelchairs, about 1000 people indicated they needed assistance.  And when they got these 1000 people to the airport and prepared to evacuate them, there were 1000 wheelchairs left at the NOLA airport and none when they arrived at their destination since they hadn’t planned on the transport of these wheelchairs, some of which can be very customized and very expensive.  So while my numbers may not be accurate, I believe you get the point of this story even if there are gaps in veracity.  It’s a challenge to plan for everyone’s needs – be it a wheelchair, baby formula and diapers, or lifesaving medicine (thinking about insulin needs here).

Thanks for sharing the references you found.  I added several of them to the module. One more reference on this topic: Daryl P Schaffer, one of my former Masters students and now a UAF PhD student, shared his thoughts about managing disabilities in disasters at a seminar last December. The recording information was just released.  Please click on this link to access the Zoom session recordingLinks to an external site.. Passcode: z6FT.*tt

I was also struck by many of you shared your personal reactions in which you shared how poor communications make you feel.  I think (or feel?) that this is a critical component that is missing in our assessment of effective communication.  It will certainly be a component when we discuss risk perception later in the course.  I was curious how we would measure that and once we had that data, how we might respond.  I can clearly start thinking about that wrt to this course – do the materials engage you or make you feel unseen?  As I said, this module always gives me a lot to reflect on.

In other news, I wanted to share an NPR article about “Alaskapox”. Links to an external site. This is the first time I have heard about this dz, although it’s apparently been observed since 2015.  I provided for those of you who live in AK and may not be familiar with the dz.

The other fascinating article I reviewed this week was one on public trust.  I had never heard of the Edelman Trust BarometerLinks to an external site. before.  Note that I received this from one of my subscriptions (VC+ or Visual Capitalist+ so I’m not sure if this is behind a paywall or not – you’ll need to let me know if you can’t access it)

As always, be safe and be well!


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