D.C. City Council Chairman David A. Clarke proposed yesterday that some public facilities be required to make visual fire alarm systems available to deaf people as an added safety precaution.
Clarke said during a news conference that he would introduce a bill today that would require hotels and motels to provide portable visual alarm systems on request. The bill also would require hospitals, nursing homes and residential-custodial care facilities in the city to place visual alert systems in rooms occupied by deaf or hearing-impaired persons.
"The primary goal of this legislation is to increase safety and security of our deaf community and for deaf visitors," Clarke said at his office. "Hopefully, with the availability of these systems, deaf persons will be able to rest more comfortably knowing that they will have instantaneous notice in case of emergency, rather than having to rely on others to provide the warning."
Under Clarke's proposal, the visual alert system would be connected to an audible smoke alarm system. When the system is triggered by fire or smoke, a flashing light would serve as a visual warning to a deaf person. The light has been proved to be powerful enough to alert people who are asleep if it has been positioned to flash across their faces, Clarke said.
Several hotels in the District voluntarily provide visual alert systems to their guests. Legislation similar to Clarke's proposal has been adopted by Maryland, Connecticut and New Jersey.