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
  •   Evacuation
  •   Medical services
  •   Notification
  •   Shelters and relocation
  •   Testing effectiveness prior to disasters
  •   Transportation

It is critical that government and community officials collaborate in developing a comprehensive emergency management plan. In order for programs to be aware of problems people with disabilities face in accessing emergency- and disaster-related services, it is essential to solicit and utilize the expertise of people with a variety of disabilities. It would also be 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 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


The following link might also be helpful to state and local governments: www.ada.gov/emergencyprep.htm


Over the past four decades, Ms. Powell has advised businesses, employers, government agencies and nonprofits about best practices with people with disabilities.


Cindy provides customized training on the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), tax incentives and other helpful topics, such as disability etiquette and service animals. Ms. Powell also provides customized sign language training.

Cindy has served on local, state and national disability organization Boards of Directors. Ms. Powell was recipient of International Association of Workforce Professionals' 2006 Services to Specialized Populations award. Cindy’s disability articles appear in print and online.







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