DOJ Issues Guide Regarding Accessibility Needs During Natural and Civil Emergencies

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced it has issued a newly revised and expanded publication to assist local government planners, first responders, and emergency staff prepare for and meet the unique needs of people with disabilities during natural and civil emergencies.

An ADA Guide for Local Governments: Making Community Emergency Preparedness and Response Programs Accessible to People with Disabilities identifies potential problems in notifying, evacuating, transporting, sheltering and providing information to people with disabilities during emergencies and offers commonsense solutions for preventing or minimizing those problems.

“Recent events taught us all that people with disabilities can be among the most vulnerable members of our communities during an emergency or natural disaster,” said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “All public officials should learn from the lessons of Hurricane Katrina and go forward better prepared to meet the needs of all of their citizens. We hope local officials will find this publication valuable and will follow the action steps it describes.”

The Civil Rights Division has made it a priority to work with localities to ensure that the needs of persons with disabilities are met during an emergency. To date, the division has entered into formal agreements with 28 communities under its Project Civic Access initiative to ensure that local governments include the interests of persons with disabilities in their emergency planning activities. Communities including Newark, N.J; Memphis, Tenn.; Arlington and Loudoun Counties, Va.; and Maui, Hawaii, have begun efforts to include the needs of persons with disabilities in their emergency preparations. The department’s revised guidance will provide even more information to help them.

The illustrated and clearly written 11-page guide can be viewed or downloaded from the department’s ADA Web site at or ordered from the ADA information line at 800-514-0301 (voice) or 800-514-0383 (TTY). Information line staff can answer additional questions about emergency preparedness or any other ADA topics.

[DOJ release]

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