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Functional Needs of People with Disabilities: A Guide for Emergency Managers, Planners and Responders

National Organization on Disability

January 1, 2010

This Guide highlights key disability concerns to officials and experts responsible for emergency planning in their communities. It seeks to assist them in developing plans that will take into account the needs and insights of people with disabilities before, during, and after emergencies. It also is designed to help emergency managers, planners, and responders make the best use of resources in the emergency preparedness planning process. These resources include people with disabilities. This guide will be periodically updated and revised.

This publication is neither a comprehensive emergency preparedness document nor a functional needs plan in itself. Rather, it is intended to summarize issues that are critical to the functional needs of people with disabilities who live in communities all across America—issues that, if thoughtfully considered ahead of time, will make emergency management efforts easier and more effective when disaster arrives.

In this Guide are steps that every emergency manager or first responder should consider in ensuring that the needs and situations of people with disabilities are taken into account in all four phases of emergency management: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. NOD encourages every jurisdiction to develop and customize a plan for its own community in light of the area’s specific hazards, its unique population, and the resources available for emergencies.

This document does not propose costly and time-consuming new initiatives or an entirely separate set of emergency procedures for people with disabilities. It is a call to make sure that the interests of people with disabilities are made a full and enduring part of emergency preparedness efforts—and that community members with disabilities have just as much opportunity as people without disabilities to prepare for and survive an emergency.