By June Isaacson Kailes, Disability Policy Consultant
Associate Director, Center for Disability Issues and the Health Professions
Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona , California
www.cdihp.org | www.jik.com
Nobody Left Behind: Disaster Preparedness
for Persons with Mobility Impairments
Research and Training Center on Independent Living
University of Kansas
Funded by a grant from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
through the Association of Teachers of Preventative Medicine, TS#0840
Why Include Disability Specific Advisors?
The internal expertise of emergency service organizations can be augmented by utilizing external qualified advisors with disabilities. Qualified advisors are those who understand and can think through issues from a disability perspective. These advisors can help an organization: take advantage of the wealth, depth and breadth of information available from the disability community, and effectively plan to include people with disabilities and activity limitations as well as prevent making a variety of sometimes-costly mistakes.
Unfortunately, the history of including people with disabilities has been, in large part, one of paternalism. Entire professions of "experts," have emerged who have taken control over basic life decisions away from people with disabilities. However, experience repeatedly demonstrates that, given the proper tools, people with many different types of disabilities can devise creative approaches to eradicate barriers that have stumped the so-called experts. For example, the newer, more popular and functional lightweight "sports" wheelchairs that are now widely used were designed by innovative wheelchair users, not the established wheelchair industry (Kaplan 1992). Including people with disabilities can be rich with recommendations that serve the mutual interest of an organization and its customers. People with disabilities and activity limitations can be excellent problem solvers.
Strategic planning and evaluation should include the diverse populations of people with disabilities and activity limitations in an organization’s planning including procurement, and programs of emergency planning, preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation services.
Who Are Qualified People With Disabilities?
Identify as people with disabilities and / or activity limitations,
Have a user’s perspective,
Have personal experience with disability and disability advocacy,
Can speak broadly on disability issues as opposed to only addressing their own needs,
Are knowledgeable about cross-disability access issues (hearing, vision, mobility, speech, and cognitive limitations), and
Are knowledgeable about a variety of physical, communication, and program access issues.
Qualified people should:
In addition, other types of experience may be needed. For example, qualified advisors, trainers, contractors and consultants with disabilities may need to have:
How Can You Recruit Qualified People With Disabilities?
Avoid Haphazard Random Recruitment
When asked to include perspectives from the disability communities on a project, board, committee, workshop, etc., organizations sometimes get less than adequate representation. This is because selecting representatives can be a haphazard and random process where planners do not take time to think through the type of representation desired. It is common for people responsible for recruiting representatives from the disability communities to automatically think of and choose a co-worker, colleague, neighbor, friend, or acquaintance that happens to have a disability or activity limitation. These individuals may or may not be qualified representatives.
Announcing, Selection and Recruiting Process
By establishing selection criteria for the type and diversity of representation you are seeking from qualified people, you can create more targeted recruiting. A sound way to start is to:
Create a description of the:
Create an application for disability specific organizations to nominate representatives, as well as, back up individuals whom they would like to represent their organizations and constituents.
Send this recruiting announcement and application to disability organizations. If you do not know where to send this recruiting material ask a well-established disability specific organizations to assist you. This organization can also assist you with your representative selection process.
Value and Pay for Participant’s Time and Expenses
Emergency services personnel sometimes incorrectly assume that people representing not-for-profit organizations are able to volunteer their time. Reimbursement of expenses and providing an honorarium demonstrates that you value these individuals’ expertise and time. Offering a wage-replacement honorarium is especially important for people who have to use their personal time (verses job-time) to participate.
Be Prepared To Offer Accommodations
All meetings should offer both communication and physical access. Communication access involves providing content in methods that are understandable and usable by people with: r educed or no ability to: speak, see, or hear. Physical access means individuals with disabilities can get to, enter, and use meeting facilities (accessible: paths from public transportation drop off points and parking (curb cuts, ramps) rest rooms, hotels and meeting facilities etc).
Before the first meeting be sure to inquire if any group member may need an accommodation in order to fully participate. Such items may include:
Accessible web sites
Planning for and not with people with disabilities reflects an old paradigm “a lot about us without us.” It is important to include people with disabilities in emergency services as contributors and collaborators, not just as people viewed as victims to be rescued. It is time to revise methods and embrace the approach “nothing about us without us!” Being diligent regarding seeking qualified representatives will yield positive payoffs.
Kailes, J. (2002). Evacuation Preparedness: Taking Responsibility For Your Safety: A Guide For People With Disabilities and Other Activity Limitations, The Center for Disability Issues and the Health Profession, Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona, California, http://www.cdihp.org/products.html.
Kaplan, D., De Witt, J., Steyaert, M. (1992). Laying the Foundation: A Report of the First Year of The Blue Ribbon Panel on National Telecommunications Policy. World Institute on Disability, Oakland, CA.
Arditi, Aries, "Making Text Legible: Designing for People with Partial Sight,"
Lighthouse International. 1999.www.lighthouse.org/print leg.htm
This covers maximizing legibility for people with partial sight.
Kailes, J., Accessibility Guidelines for Speakers, March 1993, Revised July 2000, www.jik.com/resource.html
A concise guide offering important tips in assuring access to the widest possible audience. Includes how to: make visual aids accessible through oral narratives and format; work with sign language interpreters; make soundtracks accessible through captioning; work with assistive listening systems; convert handout materials to alternative formats (braille, large print, disk, audio cassette); record material on audio cassette; and locate braille transcription, captioning, recording and duplicating services.
Kailes and Jones, "A Guide to Planning Accessible Meetings." ILRU,1993. www.jik.com/resource.html
The fundamental issues to consider when arranging a meeting that allows for attendance and participation of people with disabilities, divided into two major categories: (1.) the physical accessibility issues related to hotel, meeting facilities and the location of the meeting; and (2.) the accessibility of information that is presented and disseminated at the meeting.
North Carolina Office on Disability and Health with Woodward Communications Removing Barriers: Tips and Strategies to Promote Accessible Communication. 1999. www.fpg.unc.edu/~ncodh/communicate.html
Addresses the basics in communicating with people with disabilities.
Sajka, J., Roeder, J. (2003). PDF and Public Documents: a White Paper, Version 1.1, published April 25, 2002 , http://www.afb.org/section.asp?Documentid=1706
Addresses problems and issues with PDF web document access.
About the Author
June Isaacson Kailes, Associate Director, Center for Disability Issues and the Health Professions Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona , California , is well known for her national and international work in disaster preparedness for people with disabilities. Her publications include Living and Lasting on Shaky Ground: An Earthquake Preparedness Guide for People with Disabilities, distributed by California Office of Emergency Safety and Creating a Disaster: Resistant Infrastructure for People at Risk Including People with Disabilities used and published in several countries. Inspired by 9/11 and influenced by her past work in disaster preparedness, she authored Emergency Evacuation Preparedness: Taking Responsibility for Your Safety: A Guide for People with Disabilities and Other Activity Limitations. Material from this guide has been incorporated into several government and private sector evacuation plans as well as used by emergency management personnel.
About the Sponsoring Organization
Nobody Left Behind: Disaster Preparedness for Persons with Mobility Limitations is a three-year research study funded by a grant to the Research and Training Center on Independent Living at the University of Kansas, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through the Association of Teachers of Preventive Medicine, TS#-0840. The goal of the research is to learn whether local emergency management planning and response systems are addressing the needs of people with mobility impairments. Best practice models are also being explored in hopes of preventing injuries, saving lives, and assuring that …. Nobody is Left Behind. Dr. Glen W. White is the principal investigator and Dr. Michael Fox is the co-investigator. For information www.nobodyleftbehind2.org or contact 785-864-4095 or 785-864-0706 (TDD), 785-864-5062 (Fax)
Distribution is encouraged and permission is granted to copy and distribute this article provided that:
Kailes, J. (2005). Why and How to Include People with Disabilities in Your Emergency Planning Process? Kailes-Publications, 6201 Ocean Front Walk, Suite 2, Playa del Rey, California 90293-7556, http://www.jik.com/resource.html, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed here expressed reflect those of the author and are not necessarily those of the sponsoring agency.
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