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Individuals With Disabilities Get Help Applying for Disaster Assistance

Release date: 
October 31, 2011
Release Number: 

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- To help all members of a community recover if they had losses because of the recently declared disasters, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) are working to make sure people with disabilities also have access to disaster assistance programs.

In Pennsylvania, FEMA and PEMA partner with the disability community's leadership in serving individuals with disabilities. Organizations that participate include the Pennsylvania Office for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University, the Pennsylvania Statewide Independent Living Council, and other organizations that provide resources for individuals with disabilities. FEMA also has a Disability Integration Specialist assigned to assist Pennsylvanians. Call FEMA at 1-800-621-3362 or TTY at 1-800-462-7585 for more information.

The commitment to an inclusive approach means materials are in plain language and in alternative formats such as large print and Braille. Also, videos have been produced in American Sign Language and narrated in English with open captioning. The video link is

At FEMA/PEMA Disaster Recovery Center sites, assisted technology has been provided for survivors who may need help accessing materials. Some examples are lighted magnifying glasses, and amplified listening devices and phones.  Upon request an on-site American Sign Language interpreter will be provided or an interpreter through Video Remote Interpretation (VRI). Video Relay Service is provided for people who are deaf who want to register for disaster assistance. If a person has a speech disability or hearing loss and uses  TTY, they should call 1-800-462-7585. To locate a Disaster Recovery Center visit

The steps that have been taken ensure the whole community - including people with disabilities, seniors and those with limited English proficiency - has the same opportunity to benefit from disaster assistance programs.

To register with FEMA, call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585 for the speech- or hearing-impaired.  If you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362. Operators are multilingual and calls are answered seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. You also can register online at or by smart phone or tablet at Those with a disability who need help registering should contact FEMA.

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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