Geotechnical and Geological Engineering

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 225–236 | Cite as

Preparedness and Warning Systems for Populations with Special Needs: Ensuring Everyone Gets the Message (and Knows What To Do)

  • Helen T. SullivanEmail author
  • Markku T. Häkkinen
Original paper


The recent South Asian Tsunami has brought world-wide awareness to the effects of major disasters upon all segments of society. Vulnerable populations such as the disabled, children, or the elderly are at particular risk in a disaster and it is vital to consider their special needs in the design of disaster preparedness and warning systems. Additionally, tourists, recent immigrants, and refugees face challenges when confronted with disaster in unfamiliar locations, linguistically isolated, and in need of assimilating lifesaving information and guidance quickly when under stress. Attention to the requirements for persons with disabilities may also benefit the greater general population which can find itself situationally disabled. Information and Communications Technology based upon accessible design principles is part of the solution. Understanding of psychology, ergonomics, and information design is vital, as are the unique perceptual, cognitive, physical, and linguistic challenges that can influence the efficacy of the message. These issues are among those addressed in an ongoing project in Urakawa, Japan, which is developing a disaster preparedness information system that meets the needs of persons with disabilities.


Preparedness Technology Disability Disabilities Tsunami Psychology Accessibility Human Factors ICT 



Support for this work was provided by Special Coordination Funds for Promoting Science and Technology granted to the Research Institute of the National Rehabilitation Center for Persons with Disabilities (NRCD) by the Government of Japan. Additional support was provided by the DAISY for All Project with funding by the Nippon Foundation. The authors wish to thank Hiroshi Kawamura, of the DAISY Consortium and the NRCD Research Institute, for his support of our work in Japan.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyRider UniversityLawrencevilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Mathematical Information TechnologyUniversity of JyväskyläJyväskyläFinland

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