The Washington, D.C.-based National Council on Disability (NCD) released a report on April 15, recommending immediate federal changes in emergency planning for disabled persons. The report, titled Saving Lives: Including People with Disabilities in Emergency Planning, provides advice on the steps necessary to build a solid and resilient infrastructure for inclusion 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,” explains NCD Chairperson Lex Frieden.
While the NCD commends the Administration for the issuance of the July 22, 2004, Executive Order and acknowledges the work of the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Communications Commission, the agency remains concerned about disabled persons in emergencies. “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,” Fieden says.
“The homeland security terrorist event of Sept. 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 and the tsunami event of Dec. 26, 2004, underscore the need to pay attention to the concerns raised in this report,” Frieden concludes.
To review the key findings and NCD recommendations, visit (www.ncd.gov/newsroom/publications/2005/saving_lives.htm) or call (202) 272-2004 for more information.