Reasonable Modifications

Disaster survivors can request reasonable modifications when applying for FEMA disaster assistance. Reasonable modifications may include services like building a ramp for a wheelchair user to enter a FEMA home or providing an emergency preparedness brochure in an electronic format.

FEMA provides the following reasonable modifications to meet the needs of all disaster survivors:

  • American Sign Language (ASL) Interpretation and/or Video Remote Interpretation (VRI)
  • Real-time captioning services
  • Assistive listening and/or reading devices
  • Documentation in electronic format and/or large print
  • Physical accessibility components (such as wheelchair, restrooms, paths of travel) for FEMA facilities, including Disaster Recovery Centers and Community Recovery Centers

Eligibility for Reasonable Modifications

Qualified individuals with a disability can request a reasonable modification. To qualify, a disaster survivor must:

  • Have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities;
  • Have a history or record of such an impairment (such as cancer that is in remission); or
  • Be perceived by others as having such an impairment (such as a person who has scars from a severe burn).

What does “substantially limits” mean?
“Substantially limits” refers to a condition or impairment that impacts an individual in a meaningful way. It is a term that is used broadly.

What does “major life activities” mean?
Major life activities are the kind of activities that you do every day, including your body’s own internal processes.

Examples of Disabilities

There are a wide variety of disabilities. Some disabilities are visible, and some are not. Examples of disabilities include:

  • Blindness or low vision
  • Deafness or hearing loss
  • Mobility disabilities such as those requiring the use of a wheelchair, walker, or cane
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • HIV
  • Autism
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Epilepsy
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Traumatic brain injury

Requesting Reasonable Modifications

Reasonable modifications are available to eligible disaster survivors with disabilities. Disaster survivors can request reasonable modification during the disaster assistance application process.

  • Start your application for FEMA disaster assistance by calling FEMA’s Helpline at 800-621-3362, visiting, using the FEMA mobile app, or visiting a local Disaster Recovery Center.  
  • During the application process, you can report a disability or language need that requires additional support to interact with FEMA staff and/or access FEMA programs. 
  • If you or anyone in your household needs a reasonable modification, as well as a need to interact with FEMA or need recovery of disability-related losses, answer “yes” to the appropriate questions when completing the application for FEMA disaster assistance.

If a Request is Denied

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You may file a complaint with the External Civil Rights Division if you feel that you have been discriminated against.

FEMA may deny a request for reasonable modifications if the request was not made by or on behalf of a person with a disability, if there is no disability-related need for the modification, or the modification would fundamentally alter the nature of a program or result in an undue burden on FEMA.

When a person with a disability believes that they have been subjected to a discriminatory practice regarding equal access, including a wrongful denial of a request for reasonable modification, they may file a complaint with FEMA Office of Civil Rights’ External Civil Rights Division (ECRD).

Contact Us

If you have any questions, call FEMA’s Helpline at 1-800-621-3362. If you use a video relay service, captioned telephone service, or other communication services, please provide FEMA the specific number assigned for that service.

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