WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has released a new reference guide that outlines existing legal requirements and standards relating to access for people with disabilities. A Reference Guide for Accommodating Individuals with Disabilities in the Provision of Disaster Mass Care, Housing and Human Services is the first of a series of disability-related guidelines to be produced by FEMA for disaster preparedness and response planners and service providers at all levels.
"Federal law is very clear about accommodating people with disabilities in emergencies and disasters. Everyone involved in emergency management needs to understand and know what their responsibilities are in preparedness, response and recovery operations," FEMA Administrator R. David Paulison said. "This Reference Guide is an important tool for emergency planners, responders and government agencies as they work toward meeting the needs of people affected by emergencies and disasters. FEMA is committed to ensuring that its programs and emergency operations meet the needs of people with disabilities."
The Reference Guide summarizes equal access requirements for people with disabilities within Disaster Mass Care, Housing, and Human Services functions. The Guide explains how applicable Federal laws relate to government entities and non-government, private sector and religious organizations. A full copy of the Guide may be accessed at www.fema.gov/oer/reference.
The development and publication of the Reference Guide is the first step in meeting the requirement of Section 689 of the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006, [enacted in Title V of P.L. 109-295, DHS Appropriations Act of 2007], to develop disability related guidelines for use by those who serve individuals with disabilities in emergency preparedness and disaster relief. It is the beginning of a comprehensive initiative by FEMA to provide guidance for including persons with disabilities or other special needs in all areas of emergency management activities, including evacuation, housing, sheltering, transportation, and communications.
A Reference Guide for Accommodating Individuals with Disabilities in the Provision of Disaster Mass Care, Housing, and Human Services was developed by FEMA's Office of Equal Rights in coordination with the members of the Interagency Coordinating Council on Emergency Preparedness and Individuals with Disabilities (ICC), led by the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. Contributing agencies include the: Federal Communications Commission, United States Access Board, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Department of Justice.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency coordinates the Federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.