Emergency management must be accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities. It is essential that state and local government (Title II) and private (Title III) entities prepare for protecting people with disabilities in the event of emergencies and disasters.
Emergency management should include:
- advance planning
- disaster-related benefits
- medical services
- shelters and relocation
- testing effectiveness prior to disasters
It is critical that government and community officials collaborate in developing a comprehensive emergency management plan. For programs to be aware of problems people with disabilities face in accessing emergency- and disaster-related services, it is essential to solicit and use the expertise of people with a variety of disabilities. It is also extremely helpful to enlist people with disabilities to role-play during emergency simulations.
Traditional emergency notification methods might not provide effective communication to people who are deaf or hard of hearing or to those with vision or speech disabilities.
People with mobility disabilities might require accessible transportation and shelter as well as assistance evacuating. It is imperative that people with disabilities remain with their service animals, even where pets are not permitted.
People with and without disabilities should have access to the same social services, temporary housing and recovery benefits. It is urgent that first responders, employees and volunteers be trained.
There are a variety of resources available. A helpful emergency management checklist can be found at www.ada.gov/pcatoolkit/chap7emergencymgmtadd1.htm.
Programs can obtain disability-specific emergency management tips at nod.org/research_publications/emergency_preparedness_materials.
In addition, a comprehensive emergency preparedness and disability resource list is available at www.sedbtac.org/ada/publications/emergency_ preparedness_resources.doc
Rocky Mountain ADA Center is one of 10 regional “one-stop” comprehensive Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) resource centers. Located in Colorado Springs, Rocky Mountain ADA Center serves a six-state region: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.
Rocky Mountain ADA Center provides
- technical assistance
- education and training
- public awareness
- materials dissemination, and
- information and referral to employers, businesses, state and local government agencies, disability and rehabilitation programs, people with disabilities, architects, code officials, schools and many other entities with rights and responsibilities under the ADA.
For informal ADA guidance, information or materials, please contact Rocky Mountain ADA Center at 800.949.4232 between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays; 3630 Sinton Road, #103, Colorado Springs, CO 80907; www.adainformation.org.