Although international and Italian conventions have issued numerous communication protocols to assist people with disabilities during earthquakes or other maxi-emergencies, no tailored strategies exist to create and disseminate information online to deaf people. On August 24, 2016, a devastating earthquake destroyed Amatrice in Central Italy. This natural disaster underlined the lack of information on disabled people possibly involved and the lack of tailored, online communication tools. Having various registries listing disabled residents in the earthquake area might have benefitted emergency procedures. To access information easily and expedite risk management, the authors developed an online information tool for deaf persons, their families, and caregivers. Within hours after the earthquake, they published a Facebook page (Facebook, Inc.; Menlo Park, California USA) including a video provided with subtitles, Italian sign language, and service numbers. Those who accessed the Facebook page spread the information to other social media. Although no registry yet specifies figures, the annual incidence of approximately three to five/1,000 new deaf persons diagnosed in Italy implies that around 5.4% of the total 43,507 Italian deaf people live in the earthquake territory, and presumably 1.3% are younger than 18 years of age. The Facebook page obtained unexpectedly numerous accesses and satisfaction from deaf adults and families with deaf children, as well as hearing family relatives and caregivers. A total of 60% deaf and 10% hearing people asked for more information. Despite limitations, the effort to develop a page for deaf people and their families, via a world-wide social media, permits fast access, outlines safety precautions during maxi-emergencies, and disseminates essential information designed for deaf people on civil protection services. The Facebook page provides a replicable example for developing similar, user-friendly, online tools for disabled groups to disseminate important safety information after earthquakes or other maxi-emergencies.
Rotondi L, Zuddas M, Marsella P, Rosati P. A Facebook page created soon after the Amatrice Earthquake for deaf adults and children, families, and caregivers provides an easy communication tool and social satisfaction in maxi-emergencies. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2019;34(2):137–141