Facebook Group For Reporting Disasters
A catastrophic earthquake struck Amatrice village in Central Italy on August 24, 2016. This disaster highlighted the absence of information about disabled people who may have been involved, as well as the lack of customised online communication options. Having multiple registrations reporting disabled residents in the earthquake area could have aided emergency response operations.
To make information more accessible and risk management more efficient, two members of the impacted population created an online information tool for deaf people, their families, and carers. Within hours of the earthquake, they launched a Facebook page containing a video with subtitles, Italian sign language, and contact information. Those who visited the Facebook page spread the word on other social media platforms.
The Facebook page received an unexpectedly large number of likes and comments from deaf individuals and families with deaf children, as well as hearing family members and caretakers. Shortly after the earthquake, 85% of deaf individuals in Italy used Facebook. The high volume of inquiries and requests for additional information in response to the video highlights the potential effectiveness of a popular social platform for addressing safety-related questions and disseminating safety practices in a simple, accessible, and cost-effective manner in our daily lives.
Given the success of this tool, another initiative known as “#perfarcisentiredatutti” is being utilised by the Municipality of Rome. This initiative involves an online communication video that aims to provide comprehensive information, both before and during emergencies, with complete accessibility for both deaf and hearing individuals. It utilises various social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube (YouTube, LLC; San Bruno, California, USA).
Despite international regulations and norms, the initial response to natural disasters involving people with disabilities faces several challenges. Emergency personnel often lack awareness of the communication needs of disabled individuals and do not provide access to interpretation services, leading to difficulties in understanding and responding to emergency information. In Italy, the absence of specific disability databases posed issues during the Amatrice earthquake in 2016. Furthermore, data security regulations delayed assistance for disabled individuals. Moreover, many disabled individuals now use mobile devices and social media for communication.