The FCC is proposing to improve the visual clarity and accessibility of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) to enhance public notification, especially for those who are hearing impaired.
The regulator uses testing and other methods in an attempt to provide notice to the public about emergencies, like the tornadoes that ripped through Kentucky, Arkansas and Illinois earlier this week.
The FCC’s action today involved three separate steps:
- In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the regulator proposed rule changes to improve the clarity and descriptiveness of the visual message that appears on television during nationwide EAS tests to better inform members of the public who are unable to access the test’s audio message.
- The regulator proposed to require broadcasters, cable systems, and other EAS participants to check for and use, when available, the internet-based version of alerts rather than the legacy “over-the-air” version when transmitting public alert EAS includes a legacy broadcast system. Use of an internet-based Common Alerting Protocol system is also recommended, as the latter offers superior visual messaging capabilities, according to the FCC.
- The FCC sought comment on whether the legacy Emergency Alert System architecture can be modified, augmented, or redesigned to enable government alert originators to relay more visual information as part of, or in parallel with, their alert message.
- The Commission is also seeking comment on ways to improve the legacy EAS architecture to enable more functionality within the system as a whole, the FCC said in a press release about the proposed changes to emergency alerts for the hearing impaired.