Weather Risk Communication Experienced by Ontarians with Visual Disabilities

Priyank Chandra, Adrian Petteron, in collaboration with Toronto Climate Observatory (PI: Robert Soden)



The research project seeks to address the accessibility gaps that exist within the current disaster response measures and communication channels through design research into the needs, capacities, and constraints of people with visual disabilities in Ontario.


In Ontario, severe weather events are becoming increasingly frequent and intense, causing damage and disruptions in the places where they occur. People with visual impairments face significant barriers to receiving timely and instructive information on risk and safety during severe weather events. Such information is necessary for “protective decision-making” – decisions that individuals and communities make in advance of and during disasters that impact their safety with regards to these events. Currently, authoritative weather risk information products do not meet the needs of people with visual impairments. Developing a detailed understanding of these issues, and creating innovative communication strategies and technologies to alleviate them, is a necessary step towards ensuring effective and equitable emergency management in Canada. This research project deploys qualitative and design research methods with participants with visual impairments, disability advocacy organizations, and emergency managers in Ontario. Results will inform scholarly research in risk communications, emergency management policy in Ontario (and Canada more broadly), and the design of technologies for people with disabilities during disaster.


May 2023 Status Update
Analyzing interview data from pwVI January 2024 Status Update
Conducting second round of interviews with PwVI to prepare for a co-design research workshop


1) Jit, S., Spinney, J., Chandra, P., Chilton, L. and Soden, R. (2024). Writing out the Storm: Designing and Evaluating Tools for Weather Risk Messaging. In Proceedings of the 2024 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. (CHI 2024)

2) Jit, S., Spinney, J., Chandra, P., & Soden, R. (2023). Semi-Automated Approach for Evaluating Severe Weather Risk Communication. In Extended Abstracts of the 2023 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 1-8). (CHI 2023)