FEMA Offers Equal Access to All Disaster Survivors

FEMA is committed to providing equal access to disaster recovery resources and assistance. Let FEMA know if you or anyone in your household has a disability or language need.

Emergency management includes the whole community in all aspects of disaster preparedness and recovery response. FEMA is continuing to break down barriers that prevent disaster survivors from participating equally in disaster recovery.

A disaster can take away the key components that enable people with disabilities and people with other access and functional needs to live independently or to communicate with others. Examples may include a wheelchair, scooter, walker, CPAP machine, hearing aids, eyeglasses, or screen reader.

Some individuals without a disability may have temporary or long-term conditions where they also need a little extra help but might not think to ask for it. If you have a disability or require special assistance, please be sure to pay attention to the series of questions about reasonable accommodations and language needs when applying to ensure your specific needs are communicated to FEMA.

How to Let FEMA Know of Your Accessibility Needs

If you or anyone in your household has a disability or language need—as well as need to interact with FEMA or need recovery of disability-related losses—it is important to answer “yes” to the appropriate questions when completing the application for FEMA disaster assistance. You will be asked to identify what you need to help you throughout your recovery process. Questions will also help identify other services for which you may be eligible to receive reimbursement.

Examples of the type of questions you can expect include:

  • Do you have a disability or language need that requires an accommodation to interact with FEMA staff and/or access FEMA programs?
  • Do you or anyone in your household have a disability that affects your ability to perform activities of daily living or requires an assistive device?
  • Did you have any disability-related assistive devices or medically required equipment/supplies/support services damaged, destroyed, lost, or disrupted because of the disaster?

For an American Sign Language video on accessibility to FEMA Individual Assistance, watch the FEMA Accessible: Important Registration Assistance Information for People with Disabilities video.

Disability and Language Assistance

If you need an accommodation or assistance due to a disability or language need, ask FEMA at the time of applying or anytime throughout the assistance process. Here’s how:

  • Call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362. If you use video relay service (VRS), captioned telephone service or others, give FEMA your number for that service.
  • FEMA can provide interpreters, real-time captioning, and information in alternate formats such as Braille, large-print, audio, and electronic versions.
  • The agency also provides free services to help survivors communicate with its staff and understand FEMA programs. Among the aids are:
  • Information available in accessible electronic formats on FEMA’s website and social media
  • Qualified American Sign Language interpreters
  • Qualified multilingual interpreters
  • Information written in multiple languages

How to Apply

The fastest and easiest way to apply is by visiting DisasterAssistance.gov or via a smartphone by downloading the application from our website or through your mobile provider’s application store. If it’s not possible to apply online, call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362. If you use video relay service (VRS), captioned telephone service or others, give FEMA your number for that service.

When you apply for assistance, have the following information readily available:

  • Address of your disaster damaged home with zip code
  • A description of your disaster caused losses, which may include the condition of your damaged home
  • Insurance information, if available
  • Social Security number
  • Phone number where you can be contacted
  • Address where you can receive mail or email address to receive electronic notifications
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