Sample Access and Functional Needs & Disaster Preparedness Proposal
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Sample Access and Functional Needs & Disaster Preparedness Proposal

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TOPIC: Involving the community in disaster preparedness and emergency management. Appropriately addressing the needs of, and the issues related to, at-risk and vulnerable populations during......

TOPIC: Involving the community in disaster preparedness and emergency management. Appropriately addressing the needs of, and the issues related to, at-risk and vulnerable populations during disastrous events is necessary for the future of society.This is a draft presentation created in Graduate School.

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  • Welcome and introductions.
  • In the United States, there are well over 50 million people who find themselves in this special needs category.
    These individuals are typically grouped into social constraints and labeled and defined as handicapped, disabled, challenged, vulnerable, at-risk, or special; having required needs and services to successfully survive the challenges of daily living.
    While there is evidence of government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, advocacy organizations, and volunteer organizations working together to address and ensure that these needs are addressed throughout the disaster cycle, this progress must continue.
  • Due to recent events, fair, ethical, and unbiased treatment of people with functional needs has thrust these needs into the public eye.
    It is not enough for providers of emergency services to be familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements.
    New leadership, training, educational opportunities, outreach, and collaboration must carry this nation to a new level of social understanding, responsibility, planning, and action to address the needs of all individuals with special needs.
  • When a disaster occurs, the first priority of disaster relief organizations and government agencies is to provide basic needs—food, water, and safe shelter—to everyone who needs them. Personal needs, such as replacing medications, replacing adaptive equipment, restoring electricity for power-dependent equipment, and restoring regular ways of support for daily living activities may not happen right away, so it is crucial these critical elements are included in an evacuation plan.
  • Disabilities do not discriminate.
    No discussion of special needs populations during a disaster can begin without first defining special needs. This may seem like a straightforward task, but the reality is stakeholders have difficulty agreeing on a definition that does not diminish, offend, or lessen the true humanity of individuals. Also, as unfortunate as it may seem, many well-intentioned organizations and people give lip service to the issues that involve diversity, inclusion, and equality.
  • Offer open discussion on these two events.
    Solicit relevant audience comments and feedback.
  • Generally, disabilities can be classified into five different types of impairments. These are mobility, visual, hearing, speech and cognitive. This is important to note so comprehensive evacuation plans are designed as effectively as possible. Regardless of the above-mentioned classifications, society has a moral obligation to address the needs of the disabled community and provide them assistance and safe egress during a disaster.
  • One does not have to identify as a person with a permanent disability to qualify for needing assistance. There are many people, including those who identify and those who do not identify as having a disability, or who have no visible disability, who may also need assistance. Some people may need assistance because of conditions that are not apparent. Others may have obvious disabilities or conditions but may not need assistance. Some people may perform well in a drill but some will experience problems in emergency situations.
  • By stepping out of the box and recognizing the multitude of challenges faced by these individuals and by first responders and those in the public safety arena, taking a community-based approach and promoting involvement on a personal level are the keys to success.
  • There must also be a greater connection among emergency management professionals and the full range of voluntary organizations, including disability organizations, agencies, and advocates. Such collaboration can make a difference by leveraging collective resources to solve the problems faced by people with disabilities in a disaster situation (NCD, 2009).
  • During disasters, identifying people who have a disability or who may require assistance during an evacuation is a challenge. In small communities, those requiring assistance are generally known; however, in large communities, many older adults who would require assistance live alone and many times anonymously. In addition, McGuire, Ford, and Okoro remind us that some older adults and people with disabilities at times do not wish to be identified for fear of becoming victims to crime. Many, therefore, are reluctant to leave their home. To help, in some areas, local emergency management offices have begun maintaining a register of people with disabilities who should be located and assisted before, during, or after a disaster (2007).
  • One reason that special needs populations do not receive adequate attention is that emergency management only traditionally considers physical vulnerabilities and not social vulnerabilities of populations in high risk areas. Here physical vulnerabilities refer to the level of exposure of population to physical threats from a disaster, such as flooding and structural damage. As a result, more attention is focused on evacuation time and transportation operations rather than on the individuals themselves. Another reason is that many emergency managers do not fully understand the various challenges that special needs populations face. The lack of accurate demographical information, such as location, types of disabilities, needs, is another critical component that is missing (Zhao, Xing, Yang, Lu, & Chung, 2010).
  • •Are we, as a nation, moving forward as a society towards a more all-inclusive mind-set when it comes to emergency preparation, response, recovery, and mitigation?
    •How more reassured and better prepared are individuals with disabilities now compared to ten years ago?
    •Has criteria been established that measure the success of recent efforts to develop or improve emergency response and disaster preparation for people with disabilities?
    •Have studies been performed at the national level to assist in establishing standards and goals?
    •Do the targeted audiences know of these plans?
    •What type of outreach programs have been attempted and were they considered successful and, if so, why?
    •Have all stakeholders been given the opportunity to provide input into these plans?
    •Have there been any exercises or trainings?
    Communities face similar problems all across the country. Some of these problems and issues expand beyond geographic and jurisdictional lines and require state or national acknowledgment, assistance, and support. The issue of disaster preparation and response for people with disabilities falls into this category. Typical efforts attempted by local public safety organizations, as well as legislative attempts by elected officials vary in success. While much of this varied success depends on dynamic variables such as effective communication, budgetary concerns, and stakeholder support, much of the inadequacies are occurring because here is no standardization and not enough collaboration or information sharing.
  • New (transforming) leadership, training, educational opportunities, outreach, and collaboration must carry this nation to a new level of social understanding, responsibility, planning, and action to address the needs of all individuals with special needs.
    There is a trend that appears to be growing within the country that shows promise. A sense of universal care and concern for the safety of all individuals, including people living with disabilities, is evolving. A better definition and understanding of disability, recognizing laws protecting the safety of people with disabilities, acknowledging relevant best practices and recommendations, and reviewing the emergence of new emergency response technologies are all part of this trend to improve the nation’s disaster preparedness and evacuation plans.
  • In the broad sense of the term, demographics include the “characteristics of human populations and population segments” (American Heritage Dictionary, 2000).
    According to Njelesani, Cleaver, Tataryn, & Nixon (2012), 15% of the world’s population, an estimated 1 billion people, are living with a disability.
    When people with disabilities are recognized, and attempts to communicate with them during disasters are made, such as with warnings, once again, they are often grouped into one homogeneous population and provided with information and instructions that are not appropriately communicated or that are impossible for everyone to understand, not to mention follow (National Council on Disability [NCD], 2009).
  • Some 20 to 25 percent of people in New Orleans either had significant disabilities prior to the storm or were taking care of people with such challenges.
    Many neighborhoods and communities are located in areas of socio-economic depression where reliable transportation is low, crime is high, infrastructures are damaged, or in need of repair, and access to available public programs and services may be limited or non-existent. Additionally, the geographic location of these areas may be prone to flooding, wildfires, or other disasters.
    Disability issues need to be considered in all disasters, not just natural. One must consider and apply valid, reliable, and relevant public safety research in order to critically examine disability demographics; not only because of the global prevalence of disability but also because of the
    effects of disasters on individuals, families, and communities (Njelesani et al., 2012).
  • What do you see?
  • The model would begin by conducting surveys and interviews targeted at an entire community. This way, the results are more likely to capture not just those who are living with a disability but also those who will be able to provide an “outsider’s view”.
    The survey results will be treated as influential data to promote the need for educational programs as well as social and legislative change, all directed at the local community to improve long term disaster resiliency. Improving emergency preparedness knowledge for everyone within the community opens the door for improved communication, trust, and collaboration.
  • This research would be based on a mixed methods technique using both qualitative and quantitative designs. Question and interviews would focus on experience(s) individuals have had with disasters and any observations and suggestions they might have in regard to preparation, mitigation, response, and recovery phases of the disaster. There would also be concentration on the ethical and moral obligations of society to address these concerns with a multicultural perspective, involving all walks and ways of life.
    Define Qualitative and Quantitative, if needed.
  • Cognitive shortcuts, however, can cause problems when we are not aware of them and we end up applying them inappropriately. This leads to rash decisions or discriminatory practices such as racism, ageism, and sexism. Relying on biases but keeping them in check requires a delicate balance of self-awareness and control (Psychology Today, 2013). Researcher bias, therefore, can be looked at as clouded ethical judgment. It is an error created during the methodology and/or measurement of the problem being studied. The results end up being skewed either on purpose or unintentionally.
  • There is definitely a cultural shift that has occurred in the United States over the last decade with regards to disaster management. It is critical to recognize and support the ongoing efforts to address these life-threatening concerns.
    It is also critical emphasize that improving disaster response and evacuation of disabled individuals and vulnerable, at-risk communities is a shared responsibility.


  • 1. Involving the total community in emergency and disaster preparedness PSF 5991 – u10a1 – Proposal Presentation Kerry Coward 12.13.13
  • 2. Overview Introduction: What’s this all about? Problem Statement: What’s the problem? Research & Background Review: What’s been done before? Leadership: What do you mean “new” leadership? Demographic Analysis: Who, what, and where?
  • 3. Overview (continued) Proposed Model: What we want to do (with your help!) Research Methodology: How can we do it right? Ethical Ramifications: Do we need to call a lawyer?! Conclusion: Okay, let’s wrap it up! Making Austin the Best Managed City in the Country! References: Thanks to the experts.
  • 4. Appropriately addressing the needs of, and the issues related to, at-risk and vulnerable populations during disastrous events is necessary for the future of society. Introduction
  • 5. It is generally accepted that the special needs population includes visually impaired, hearing impaired, mobility impaired, single working parents, non–English-speaking persons, people without vehicles, people with special dietary needs, people with medical conditions, people with intellectual disabilities, and people with dementia (FEMA, 2011). Definition
  • 6. Arguably, modern-day emergency management has never been more in the public eye since the events of September 11, 2001 (9/11) and Hurricane Katrina. Over the last decade, the apparent lack of preparedness and questionable response efforts during these historic events has elevated the importance of effective disaster management. Introduction (continued)
  • 7. Problem Statement
  • 8. Problem Statement (continued)
  • 9. Research & Background Review No criteria have been established that measure the success of recent efforts to develop or improve emergency response and disaster preparation for people with disabilities. Studies must be performed nationwide to establish standards and goals.
  • 10. While anecdotal information on persons’ experiences is abundant (NOD, 2005) little empirical data exist in the literature on disaster preparedness and safe evacuation of persons with physical disabilities under emergency or disaster conditions. Not until 2003 did the National Council on Disability (NCD), which was established in 1978, begin to gather information on the development and implementation of federal laws, policies, programs, and practices that affect people with disabilities (NCD, 2009). Research & Background Review
  • 11. Research & Background Review • There are numerous case studies and analyses on emergency preparedness and response; many of which are based on the invaluable theory of capturing and utilizing lessons learned. • However, classic literature on the topic of emergency preparedness and disaster response for individuals with disabilities is far less in number, and even fewer examples exist when the topic is narrowed down to address evacuating individuals with disabilities.
  • 12. Research & Background Review For those living with a disability and those caring for the disabled in these vulnerable areas, adequate coverage of emergency communications and emergency assistance is often subpar.
  • 13. This begs the question: “Are our current public safety practices able to handle the additional service demands associated with emergency response and disaster preparedness for individuals with disabilities, vulnerable populations, and at-risk communities, including the evacuation of individuals with disabilities?” Research Question
  • 14. Leadership • Leadership theories play a large role in the cultivation of organizations as well as individuals. • Leadership also influences the evolution and progression of society. • Leadership is needed to ensure changes are made in historical thought processes of how the disabled community is defined and how critical it is for these individuals to be included in disaster response and emergency preparedness plans.
  • 15. Demographic Analysis Therefore, the majority of the world's people with disabilities live in low and middle-income countries (World Health Organization [WHO], 2011). While the prevalence of disability is higher in high- income countries, due to increased survival and longevity, the incidence of disability is higher in low and middle-income countries.
  • 16. Demographic Analysis
  • 17. Proposed Model
  • 18. Proposed Model 1. Institutional Review Board (IRB) submittal 2. Developing forms and procedures 3. Choosing the setting and environment 4. Obtain any necessary permissions 5. Recruitment and selection of participants 6. Conduct pilot test (if resources permit) 7. Choose and train assistants 8. Build and ensure ethical safeguards 9. Set interview and survey schedules 10. Develop any necessary backup plans 11. Collect data 12. Score, analyze, and evaluate data.
  • 19. Research Methodology
  • 20. Ethical Ramifications As described in the Belmont Report, the ethical considerations one must take into account when conducting research with human subjects include: respect for persons; beneficence; and justice. Best practice examples for applying these principles include: informed consent; assessment of risks and benefits; and selection of subjects (1979) In the public sector, especially those organizations whose operations are a necessity for the well-being, safety, and protection of the public, transparency is a critical necessity.
  • 21. Conclusion
  • 22. Questions?
  • 23. Thank you City Hall members! Kerry Coward Volunteer Services Coordinator City of Austin Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management 512-299-8391
  • 24. References American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, The. (2000). Fourth Edition ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. Available from: Belmont Report (1979). The Belmont Report: Ethical principles and guidelines for the protection of human subjects of research. Retrieved December 13, 2011, from Cone, J. D., & Foster, S. L. (2006). Dissertations and theses from start to finish: Psychology and related fields (2nd ed.). Washington DC: American Psychological Association. Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA]. (2011). People with disabilities and other access and functional needs. Retrieved from: Fox, M. H., White, G. W., Rooney, C., & Rowland, J. L. (2007). Disaster Preparedness and Response for Persons With Mobility Impairments. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 17(4), 196-205. McGuire, L. C., Ford, E. S., & Okoro, C. A. (2007). Natural disasters and older US adults with disabilities: implications for evacuation. Disasters, 31(1), 49-56. doi:10.1111/j.1467- 7717.2007.00339.x
  • 25. References National Council on Disability [NCD]. (2009). Effective Emergency Management: Making Improvements for Communities and People with Disabilities. National Council on Disability, Washington, DC, August 12, 2009. National Organization on Disability [NOD]. (2005). Retrieved from Njelesani, J., Cleaver, S., Tataryn, M., & Nixon, S. (2012). Using a Human Rights-Based Approach to Disability in Disaster Management Initiatives. Natural Disasters, Dr. Cheval, S. (Ed.), InTech. The University of Toronto, Canada. March 2012. Psychology Today. (2013). Psych Basics. What is Bias? Retrieved from: U.S. Census Bureau. (2010). Newsroom: Profile America - Facts for Features. World Health Organization [WHO]. (2011). World Report on Disability 2011, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, 14.07.2011. Zhao, F., Xing, K., Yang, S., Lu, C., & Chung, S. (2010). Hurricane Evacuation Planning for Special Needs Populations. Center for Special Needs of Special Population (TRANSPO). Florida International University. FTA-FL-04-7104-2010.04. Miami, FL. May 2010.