Disaster preparedness for people with disabilities: same, but different

Des Moines – The keys to effective disaster preparedness—be informed, make a plan and take action—apply to all of us, but people with disabilities or access and functional needs (AFN) should approach preparedness planning with additional considerations.

Now is a great time to consider the needs of people with disabilities or AFN when disaster strikes. This Friday, July 26, marks the 29th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This milestone civil rights law affirms rights of people with disabilities or AFN and prohibits discrimination based on disability by state and local governments, private entities and telecommunications. ADA is a powerful tool to ensure everyone is included in all aspects of emergency management.

FEMA recognizes that emergency management is a whole community effort and is committed to helping people with disabilities before, during and after disasters. So here are some considerations to help prepare for and respond to disasters for people with disabilities or AFN:

• Ahead of a disaster, check with your local emergency manager regarding specific arrangements or requirements for people with disabilities or AFN who may be going to a shelter. Certain measures may have to be taken into consideration if there is a need to evacuate to a shelter after a storm.

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