FEMA and The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) have just signed an agreement to strengthen emergency management collaboration, specifically to ensure that access and functional needs of people with disabilities are incorporated into all aspects of planning for, responding to and recovering from disasters. Over the past year, there have been a number of steps taken to get to this point.
Early last year, a first-ever office of Disability Integration was established within FEMA. Last July, FEMA signed a memorandum of agreement with the National Council on Independent Living which allows the 450 centers for independent living from across the country to access FEMA disaster recovery centers in order to better assist people with disabilities impacted by a disaster. A few months later, FEMA hosted its first-ever "Getting Real" conference, which brought together stakeholders from the disability and emergency management communities to discuss how they can better partner and integrate the needs of people with disabilities into emergency planning. Then in November, FEMA announced new guidelines, the Functional Needs Support Services Guidance, on general population emergency sheltering for people with access and functional needs.
With Japan’s Tsunami last week causing potential threats to Hawaii and the U.S. west coast, I believe this topic is top of mind for many individuals who either have a disability or are caring for someone who does.
This information should not be construed as "legal advice" for a particular set of facts or circumstances. It is intended only to be a practical guide for participants familiar with this subject. Users should seek appropriate legal advice tailored to address their specific situation.