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E-Mail Alerts: What’s Available Accessible Emergency Notification and Communication: State of the Science Conference E-Mail Alerts: What’s Available Accessible Emergency Notification and Communication: State of the Science Conference Gallaudet University November 2, 2005

The WGBH Media Access Group • The Caption Center (est. 1972) – Primary audience: The WGBH Media Access Group • The Caption Center (est. 1972) – Primary audience: people who are deaf or hard of hearing • Descriptive Video Service (est. 1990) – Primary audience: people who are blind or visually impaired • National Center for Accessible Media (est. 1993) – Research and development facility

The WGBH National Center for Accessible Media Research and development facility • Supports national The WGBH National Center for Accessible Media Research and development facility • Supports national policy decisions • Develops technical solutions • Conducts research • Promotes advocacy via outreach

Access to Emergency Alerts for People with Disabilities • Funded by U. S. Department Access to Emergency Alerts for People with Disabilities • Funded by U. S. Department of Commerce Technology Opportunities Program (TOP) • Just concluded first year of three year grant: – Formed Advisory Board and Working Group – Developed consumer use case scenarios – Developed preliminary information model – Developed conceptual model to facilitate gap analysis – Built information repository

Access to Emergency Alerts for People with Disabilities Currently: • Planning consumer focus groups Access to Emergency Alerts for People with Disabilities Currently: • Planning consumer focus groups • Developing partner relationships to conduct testing and develop demonstration models • Establishing contacts at Massachusetts agencies, to develop state model for notification • Conducting outreach

Access to Emergency Alerts for People with Disabilities • What’s Ahead – Refine use Access to Emergency Alerts for People with Disabilities • What’s Ahead – Refine use cases, information model – Conduct usability testing – Develop demonstration model – Conduct test implementations and evaluations of use cases in products and services – Continue development of information repository – Convene Advisory Board annually

Text Alert Messaging Technologies • Two basic technologies to deliver services: – Short Message Text Alert Messaging Technologies • Two basic technologies to deliver services: – Short Message System (SMS) – Conventional E-Mail – Most emergency alert systems can accommodate both - User profile can store both cell phone and email contacts

Text Alert Messaging: SMS • Commonly available on wide range of personal mobile devices Text Alert Messaging: SMS • Commonly available on wide range of personal mobile devices • Designed for display on small screens of cell phones and pagers • Approx. 140 character limit per message • Segmented (multiple part) messages are possible • Uses ‘store-and-forward’ distribution (auto redial) – Automatically resends message if recipient device is turned off or out of range

Text Alert Messaging: Conventional E-Mail • “Traditional” e-mail -- SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) Text Alert Messaging: Conventional E-Mail • “Traditional” e-mail -- SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) • Can accommodate longer text messages with enclosures – Still, messages should conform to practical limits • Used by popular RIM, Blackberry and Sidekick devices

E-mail and Text Messaging Service Offerings • Many various services developed over past few E-mail and Text Messaging Service Offerings • Many various services developed over past few years (TV stations gain Internet presence) – Sports, stocks, school closings – Weather, traffic, emergencies • Most available on free subscription basis, requiring registration of e-mail or cell phone number – Often multiple addresses/numbers can be entered in a user profile – Ability to select type of messages received, often by region

E-Mail Notification Services • Wide choice available around the country, offered by: – Local E-Mail Notification Services • Wide choice available around the country, offered by: – Local tv stations & newspapers – Local, regional & state governments – Private ad-sponsored and fee-based services – Most are free, and provide some menu of choices for types of alerts and desired geographical areas – Additional services are designed for specific audiences, i. e. company employees, parent organizations, etc.

Text Alert Messaging - Features and Needs • Text-based services can be difficult to Text Alert Messaging - Features and Needs • Text-based services can be difficult to use for individuals: – Without strong reading/writing skills – For whom English is a second language • Multiple messages can create clutter, “cry-wolf” syndrome • Need to provide confidence in message authority • Verbose messages in a terse environment – Often message structure is complicated and dense

Text Alert Messaging - Features & Needs “Free” can have a cost: • Most Text Alert Messaging - Features & Needs “Free” can have a cost: • Most sites require minimal personal info, but read the privacy notices to know how your information will be used • We have no evidence that spam results • If subscription site provides marketing services for a sponsor, they should provide an “opt-out” • Cost per message often free, but service provider may charge for each message

Examples of Services • The Emergency Email & Wireless Network • Local weather (KIRO) Examples of Services • The Emergency Email & Wireless Network • Local weather (KIRO) • RPIN (Washington State) • Local Emergency (Arlington County, VA) • Paid subscription: sendwordnow. com

Sample Services: Emergency Email. org • Free, ad supported • Provides notification of local, Sample Services: Emergency Email. org • Free, ad supported • Provides notification of local, regional, national and international emergencies • Distributes via Internet, e-mail, cell phones, pagers and fax • Site includes links for most states, counties and local areas

Sample Services: Emergency Email. org • Provides info from a wide assortment of sources: Sample Services: Emergency Email. org • Provides info from a wide assortment of sources: – Emergency management – Disaster relief – Health and public safety organizations – Weather Services – Schools – Non-profit and government agencies • Provides messaging system products and services to corporate, government and agency clients

Sample Services: Regional Public Information Network (RPIN) • Free service to Central Puget Sound Sample Services: Regional Public Information Network (RPIN) • Free service to Central Puget Sound area in Washington State • Collects info on street and highway closures, major transit disruptions, weather • Provides updates on agencies’ responses • Public can sign up to receive e-mail alerts and pager headlines from RPIN partners, including emergency preparedness tips • Users can select types of alerts by geographic area • Users can subscribe to multiple receipt devices

Sample Services: KIRO (Seattle) • Good example of local TV station free e-mail alert Sample Services: KIRO (Seattle) • Good example of local TV station free e-mail alert subscription service • Site is built and managed for KIRO by Internet Broadcasting – Provides Web site templates and hosted services for 70 TV news and information sites across U. S. • Consumers can choose geographic location • Consumers can select delivery to pager or cellphone

Sample Message: KIRO From: KIROTV. com Newsroom [mailto: emailnews@kirotv. com] Sent: Friday, October 01, Sample Message: KIRO From: KIROTV. com Newsroom [mailto: [email protected] com] Sent: Friday, October 01, 2004 12: 20 PM To: Firstname Lastname Subject: BREAKING NEWS: Steam Eruption Seen At Mount St. Helens Steam Eruption Begins At Mount St. Helens BREAKING NEWS: Mount St. Helens is erupting. Steam is shooting from the crater. MORE DETAILS:

Sample Services: Arlington County, VA • E-mail alert notification service for residents and businesses Sample Services: Arlington County, VA • E-mail alert notification service for residents and businesses in Arlington County • Alerts now available via XM Radio © • Users subscribe through a free account with ROAM Secure Alert Network • ROAM Secure operates service for Arlington County and other communities in Washington DC metro area • Users can choose wide variety of messages

Sample Services: sendwordnow. com • Paid service for alerting by SMS, email and voice Sample Services: sendwordnow. com • Paid service for alerting by SMS, email and voice for corporate and government clients • Allows secure two-way communication in time-critical situations • Using such a service, a company can set up message distribution to potentially thousands of users • Automated management and tracking features: – Verify message delivery, log responses, schedule repeat messages

End-User Observations Thanks to Donna Platt Manager Washington State 9 -1 -1/TTY Education Program End-User Observations Thanks to Donna Platt Manager Washington State 9 -1 -1/TTY Education Program Department of Education Hearing, Speech and Deafness Center (HSDC) Seattle, WA

End-User Observations: Emergency. Email. org • Messages usually cut in half when sent to End-User Observations: Emergency. Email. org • Messages usually cut in half when sent to pager (but were full on e-mail) • Too many messages on weather in Cascades mountains, even though signed up for King County Alerts • Caused some people to unsubscribe • Recently received messages via computer, not pager -- but didn’t change preferences

End-User Observations: Severe Weather Alert KOMO-TV (Seattle) • Severe Weather Alert KOMO-TV – Short, End-User Observations: Severe Weather Alert KOMO-TV (Seattle) • Severe Weather Alert KOMO-TV – Short, concise, one-sentence messages – Messages stopped coming last Spring without explanation – Yet, Web site notes no discontinuation of service

End-User Observations: Severe Weather Alert KIRO-TV (Seattle) • Severe Weather Alert KIRO-TV – Most End-User Observations: Severe Weather Alert KIRO-TV (Seattle) • Severe Weather Alert KIRO-TV – Most messages similar to emergencyemail. org, but shown in full • Breaking News KIRO TV – From Web site, click on “Sign up for E- News” – Amber Alerts and National Threat Levels announced through this service – Clicking link from pager, it takes time to find the right article and click on it again

End-User Observations: RPIN • For several years, no messages were shown on Sidekick pager End-User Observations: RPIN • For several years, no messages were shown on Sidekick pager (but were received via Blackberry pager) • Messages do show via e-mail • More recently, messages now received on Sidekick • Clicking on link shows message within screen

End-User Observations: Seattle/King County Public Health • Messages received to pager and e-mail • End-User Observations: Seattle/King County Public Health • Messages received to pager and e-mail • Clicking on link works with computer, – But with pager full page is not shown within screen – One side of Web site was shown

Subscription Sites Accessibility • Sign up should be: – Universally accessible – Properly formatted Subscription Sites Accessibility • Sign up should be: – Universally accessible – Properly formatted – Easy to use • Display preferences could be part of sign-up – for future subscription management and delivery of alerts • Sign-up could adjust itself when user finishes accessibility prefs, so rest of process is easier

Subscription Sites -- Sample Accessibility Overview • All need improvement -- far from compliant Subscription Sites -- Sample Accessibility Overview • All need improvement -- far from compliant with Section 508: – Weather. com desktop weather application download page – www. thebostonchannel. com/weather/index. html – www. weather. com/weather/my

Text Alert Messaging - What’s the Future • Accessibility • Basic 508 and 255 Text Alert Messaging - What’s the Future • Accessibility • Basic 508 and 255 compliance issues • Compatability, interoperability with assistive technologies • Text-to-speech alternatives needed • Peer-to-peer signing • Push (subscription), pull (surfing) and two-way (interactive) services

Text Alert Messaging - What’s the Future • Digital Broadcasting – Potential for ad-hoc Text Alert Messaging - What’s the Future • Digital Broadcasting – Potential for ad-hoc channels and services – HDRadio has text display capabilities – Potential text-to-speech and speech-to-text applications – Podcasting

ncam. wgbh. org/alerts incident. com/access Marcia Brooks Marcia_brooks@wgbh. org ncam. wgbh. org/alerts incident. com/access Marcia Brooks [email protected] org