September 02, 2005

Disaster Planning & Disability

Among readers of the Rolling Rains Report are a group of Universal Design specialists ( the Working Group on Inclusive Destination Development) who offer technical support to crews on the group in post-tsunami Asia. With the destruction caused by hurricane Katrina there will be a need for similar attention to inclusive design as infrastructure, homes, and businesses are rebuilt in the Gulf Coast region.

While those discussions are still to come, current concern centers on the situation of people with disabilities in the aftermath. The National Council on Disability is circulating the following

Recovery Plan in Response to Hurricane Katrina

WASHINGTONThe National Council on Disability (NCD) expresses its deep
concern for the tremendous loss of life and devastation caused in the
southern part of the United States by Hurricane Katrina and urges the
Federal Government to craft a strong coordinated Federal Disability
Recovery Plan for the victims and survivors of the hurricane.

According to NCD chairperson Lex Frieden, Current data indicates that
people with disabilities are now most at risk in this situation and will
need recovery assistance for months or years. A disproportionate number
of the Hurricane survivors are people with disabilities whose needs for
basic necessities are compounded by chronic health conditions and
functional impairments. Relief agencies must prioritize efforts and take
special steps to address the unique and complex needs of this population.

NCDs 2005 report titled Saving Lives: Including People with Disabilities
in Emergency Planning
recommends immediate federal changes in emergency planning for people
with disabilities. NCD encourages Hurricane Katrina responders to follow
the findings and recommendations in this timely report.

Saving Lives: Including People with Disabilities in Emergency Planning,
NCDs 2005 report, provides an overview of steps the Federal Government
should take to build a solid and resilient infrastructure that will
enable the government to include the diverse populations of people with
disabilities in emergency preparedness, disaster relief, and homeland
security programs. This infrastructure would incorporate access to
technology, physical plants, programs, and communications. It also would
include procurement and emergency programs and services.

NCD commends the Administration and those in leadership positions for the
issuance of the July 22, 2004, Executive Order on people with
disabilities and emergency preparedness. In addition, NCD acknowledges
the work of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) in their efforts to ensure that Americans
with disabilities are included in the developing infrastructure.

All too often in emergency situations the legitimate concerns of people
with disabilities are overlooked or swept aside. In areas ranging from
the accessibility of emergency information to the evacuation plans for
high-rise buildings, great urgency surrounds the need for responding to
the concerns of people with disabilities in all planning, preparedness,
response, recovery, and mitigation activities. The homeland security
terrorist event of September 11, 2001, as well as the recent energy
blackouts in the U.S. Northeast and Midwest and, more recently, the
natural disaster hurricane events in Florida, the tsunami event of 2004,
and this most recent event, Hurricane Katrina, underscore the need to pay
attention to the concerns raised in this report, Frieden said.

The decisions the Federal Government makes, the priority it accords to
civil rights, and the methods it adopts to ensure uniformity in the ways
agencies handle their disability-related responsibilities are likely to
be established in the early days of an emergency situation and be
difficult to change if not set on the right course at the outset. By way
of this report, NCD offers advice to assist the Federal Government in
establishing policies and practices in these areas. This report provides
examples of community efforts with respect to people with disabilities,
but by no means does it provide a comprehensive treatment of the
emergency preparedness, disaster relief, or homeland security program
efforts by state and local governments.

Please visit, the
Federal Governments Web portal for disaster information and help.

For more information, contact Mark Quigley at 202-272-2008.

Mark S. Quigley
Director of Communications
National Council on Disability
1331 F Street, NW, Suite 850
Washington, DC 20004

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Posted by rollingrains at September 2, 2005 06:01 PM