Webinar: People with Disabilities and Disaster Planning




audio version (opens in a new tab)




I attended a webinar at the end of April which discussed two related topics. On April 26, 2021, the

National Center on Advancing Person-Centered Practices and Systems

Presented a webinar about people with disabilities and disaster planning. The topic was “Strengths-Based Planning for Worst-Case Scenarios: The Role of Person-Centered Planning in Disaster Preparedness”. Although the web site of the organization presenting this webinar states their events are recorded, I could not find an event archive anywhere. In this blog post, I will summarize what I learned.


Disabilities Overview

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) requires access to programs and services. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires that recipients of federal funds be accessible to people with disabilities. This includes program accessibility, effective communication and physical accessibility. Disability statistics then discussed.


According to a presenter, there are 2 million Americans with disabilities in congregate settings. 19 countries have signed and 175 have ratified the

International Treaty on the Rights of People with Disabilities.

The U.S. has not ratified the treaty. Community resilience means preparing for disasters and bounce back in a timely manner. The presentation then focused on the perspective of an individual with a disability.


Perspective from a Person with Disability

The presenter, who is DeafBlind, pointed out that some businesses are not knowledgeable about accommodations. Captioning is not always accessible for all people who are deaf. For example, some DeafBlind people require tactile captioning. Transcripts can help people with disabilities access information. The presentation then focused on disaster preparedness.


Disaster Planning

The third presenter focused on community resilience. This includes access to food, evacuation plans, accessible transportation and access to durable medical equipment. It is important for communities, families and providers to be prepared for emergencies considering needs of everyone. It was recommended by the presenter that at least one person with disability be part of community preparedness planning. Collaboration is essential. Communication is also crucial.


Communication During Emergencies

Multiple communication methods for preparedness and response are important, not just using one. There was also agreement that people with disabilities know their needs better than anyone else. An accommodation for one person is not necessarily the answer for someone else. In other words, different people have different needs. Some resources were provided during the presentation.


Online Resources

The first resource mentioned during the presentation is one which I have known about for years.


provides emergency preparedness toolkits. The second resource was new to me.

Project REDD from Texas A&M University

Focuses on information about disaster preparedness. While reviewing the Project Redd site after the webinar, I notice that information is categorized based on type of disability. This can help narrow down information based on specific disabilities. Finally, the

Federal Emergency Management Agency

Offers emergency preparedness information for

Individuals & Communities”.

Bottom line: Educating yourself to prepare is important, and this can be accomplished through resources.



Question for readers: As a person with a disability, how do you prepare for future challenges? I will return with another article.


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