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Important Communication Guidance in Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy

Disability Rights Office/CGB Offers Communication Guidance to Persons with Disabilities

In Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy

From FEMA’s Office of Disability Integration and Coordination, 10/31/2012 

Disability Rights Office/CGB Offers Communication Guidance to Persons with Disabilities in Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy

The Federal Communications Commission’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau offers the following information to individuals with disabilities seeking information and assistance during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy:

Phone Calls

•  According to an October 30, 2012 FEMA news release, the President declared major disasters for New York and New Jersey, making disaster assistance available to those in the heaviest hit areas affected by the storm.  Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties in New York and New Jersey can begin the disaster application process by registering online at, by web enabled mobile device at or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).  Disaster assistance applicants who have a hearing or speech disability and use TTYs should call 1-800-462-7585 directly.  If you do not use a TTY and are calling through any relay service or by voice, you can also access the following voice telephone number:  1-800-621-3362.  These toll-free telephone numbers (provided by FEMA) will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.

• If you have a hearing or speech disability, you also can use telecommunications relay services to make calls for assistance.  In your local area, dial 711 to access these services by TTY or by voice.  Alternatively, you can access IP Relay, IP Captioned Telephone or video relay services on line.

•  If you are trying to send someone a text message and it is not going through, wait 10 seconds before redialing a call.  On many wireless handsets, to re-dial a number, you simply push "send" after you've ended a call to redial the previous number.  If you do this too quickly, the data from the handset to the cell sites do not have enough time to clear before you've resent the same data.  This contributes to a clogged network.

• If you do not have electric power in your home, consider using your vehicle to charge cell phones or listen to news alerts on the car radio.  But don’t try to reach your car if it is not safe to do so, and remain vigilant about carbon monoxide emissions from your car if it is a closed space, such as a garage.

Television, Radio and the Internet

• Tune-in to television, radio and the Internet (via your desktop or laptop computer, tablet or mobile phone) for important news alerts.

• FCC rules require audio information about emergencies provided on television to be accompanied by visual information for persons with hearing disabilities.  This is typically provided through closed captions, so please make sure you have your captions turned on.

•  If you have a visual disability, emergency information provided during televised news programming must be provided in an audio format along with its visual format.  If you are watching regularly scheduled (non-news) programming and hear tones or beeps, this signifies that emergency information is being provided.  Turn on your radio or call someone to get up-to-date information about the emergency that is occurring.

• The Commission will continue to monitor closely complaints alleging violations of our laws requiring access to emergency information on television, and will review for possible enforcement action.  If you have a complaint regarding the lack of emergency information being presented in an accessible format, you may contact your video programming distributor directly for quick resolution of the problem (you can locate VPD contact information by searching the VPD Registry located on the FCC’s webpage at: or you may file a complaint with the FCC.

If you decide to complain directly to the FCC, your complaint should include:

• The name of the VPD (e.g., broadcast station, cable company, satellite TV provider, local telephone company) against whom the complaint is alleged;

• The date and time of the transmission of emergency information that was in a format not accessible to persons with disabilities; and

• The type of emergency.

You can file your complaint with the FCC using the on-line complaint Form 2000C found at  You also may contact the FCC by letter, facsimile transmission, telephone (voice/TRS/TTY), Internet e-mail, audio-cassette recording, Braille, or any other method that would best accommodate your disability.  Send your complaint to:

Federal Communications Commission

Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau

445 12th Street, SW

Washington, DC 20554

Phone: 1-888-225-5322 (voice); 1-888-835-5322 (TTY)



Fax:  866-418-0232

Fact sheets summarizing the closed captioning and access to emergency information rules are available at the FCC’s Web site at, and

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