NCD Urges Federal Government To Consider Disability In Disaster
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 20, 2005
WASHINGTON, DC--The federal government should take the lead to insure that the needs of people with disabilities are considered in emergency planning and disaster response, the National Council on Disability said in a report released April 15.
The report, "Saving Lives: Including People with Disabilities in Emergency Planning", cited the September 11, 2001 terrorists attacks, in which many people with disabilities were stranded in the doomed buildings either because they had no way to evacuate or did not know about disaster plans and equipment that had been put in place following the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
The report also noted disability-related problems during the recent energy blackouts in the U.S. Northeast and Midwest, the hurricanes in Florida and the tsunami disaster in the Indian Ocean. During last year's California wildfires, many television stations failed to include visual images or update captions for deaf people to know what was going on and where to go to be safe.
"All too often in emergency situations the legitimate concerns of people with disabilities are overlooked or swept aside," said NCD chairperson Lex Frieden, in a press statement. "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."
Regarding the Department of Homeland Security, NCD recommends that DHS establish a Disability Access Advisory Group to advise it; integrate information about people with disabilities into general preparedness materials; and provide guidance to state and local emergency planning departments reinforcing their legal obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act in planning for, operating, and managing programs and services.
Additionally, NCD recommends the Federal Communication Commission immediately develop stronger enforcement mechanisms to ensure that broadcasters, cable operators, and satellite television services make emergency information accessible to people with hearing and vision disabilities.
"Saving Lives: Including People with Disabilities in Emergency Planning" (National Council on Disability)
NCD Press release