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RAISE The Standard, October 2023, v.9 n.9

RAISE (The National Resources for Access, Independence, Self-determination and Employment (RAISE) Technical Assistance Center) logo

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A diverse group of people gathered on the ocassion of a natural disaster

Emergency Preparedness

Hurricanes, wildfires, tornados, earthquakes, mudslides, floods, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, avalanches, extreme heat, extreme cold, hailstorms, shootings, terrorist attacks, and pandemics… we don’t mean to scare you, but the truth is that disasters can happen anywhere and often without any warning. Are you ready?

Environmental emergencies disproportionally impact people with disabilities. During an evacuation, they are more likely to be left behind or abandoned, due to insufficient planning, inaccessible transportation, or shelter which lacks the necessary accommodations.

Every September is National Preparedness Month, designed to promote family and community disaster planning throughout the year. In this issue of RAISE The Standard, we look at emergency preparedness and the importance of teaching skills for planning during the transition years.

Click here to access a video of Sherman Gillums at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, who offers guidance for people with disabilities.

Click here to access this short video (in ASL) on how people with disabilities can prepare for an emergency.

People with disabilities can get listed with their state office on emergency management; click here to learn how.


Kevin Nunoz

"I was told to wait there, alone, in the dark."

Kevin Nunez is the Vice Chair of the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities. He recalls the terror he felt observing the absence of meaningful planning for his safety needs during school emergencies:

“When I was in school, my evacuation plan was to wheel myself into the ladies’ bathroom, pull into the handicapped stall — which was the only place big enough for my power wheelchair — and turn around with my back to the door. They told me that if a shooter came in, the bullets would have to go through the metal door and my wheelchair before they hit me. I was told to wait there, alone, in the dark."

—Kevin Nunez

Click here to watch Kevin talk about his experiences.


Person with a disability in a wheelchair navigating in ankle deep water

Getting Ready

FEMA urges people with disabilities to take these steps which will help them stay safe in an emergency:

Get Informed

It is important to know what disasters could affect your area, which ones could call for an evacuation, and when to shelter in place. It is a good idea to have a NOAA Weather Radio tuned to your local emergency station and to monitor TV and radio. This will help you to follow mobile alerts and warnings about severe weather in your area.

Residents can get weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five different locations anywhere in the United States. Click here to download the app.

Make a Plan

In the event of a disaster, could you make it on your own for several days? After a disaster you may not have access to a medical facility or even a drugstore. It’s crucial to plan for your daily needs and know what you would do if they became limited or unavailable.

Click here to learn more about making a plan.

Build a Kit 

You will likely need more than food, water, and clothing — consider batteries, assistive devices, medication, and necessities for your support animal. In addition to having your basic survival supplies, an emergency kit should have items to meet your individual needs in various emergencies. Consider the items you use every day and which ones you may need to add to your kit.

Click here to learn more about how to make a “Go Kit.”


Young adult female with disabilities discussing emergency planning at work with an older co-worker

Workplace Readiness

It is vital that employers ensure that all phases of planning for emergency management consider the needs of people with disabilities, including various types of disability (e.g. vision, mobility, developmental, psychiatric, hearing). And of course, it is always best to involve individuals with disabilities in the planning stage in order to ensure that the needs of individuals with disabilities are adequately addressed in the plan.

Click here to read the full article from the Department of Labor, which offers guidance and tips on how employers can address the needs of those with disabilities in the workplace.

Whether mandatory or voluntary, many employers have developed emergency evacuation plans for employees with disabilities.

Click here for steps you can take to include employees with disabilities in those plans.

Another great resource is the Department of Labor’s “Preparing the Workplace for Everyone: Accounting for the Needs of People with Disabilities." This user friendly 84-page workbook offers a sequential process for developing a plan, and poses “critical questions.” Here are a few of them:

  • Have senior-level staff demonstrated a commitment to developing, implementing, and maintaining a plan that includes people with disabilities? If not, what can and is being done to increase awareness of the importance of this issue, particularly among senior staff?
  • Are there individuals with disabilities involved in the planning process? If so, do their perspectives represent the broader views of the disability community?
  • Are there multiple methods formation to all staff and visitors
  • Have first responders and service providers provided input on the feasibility of plans and response efforts?
  • Has information about an employee’s need for assistance in the event of an emergency evacuation been collected in a manner that is consistent with the Rehabilitation Act?
  • Have steps been taken to clearly communicate the reasons for gathering the information and the importance of maintaining the employee’s confidentiality?
  • Have all employees needing and providing assistance had adequate training on equipment and emergency procedures?

Click here to access the full report, “Preparing the Workplace for Everyone: Accounting for the Needs of People with Disabilities."

Community Planning

The City of Coffs Harbour on the north coast of Australia hosted a Disability Inclusive Emergency Planning forum in April 2023. The forum helped empower the community to prepare to keep each other as safe as possible in the event of a disaster. It was held in partnership with the University of Sydney’s Leave Nobody Behind project and focused on the Person-Centered Emergency Preparedness (P-CEP) process.

Hear from forum attendees about the importance of P-CEP and how it can help communities better prepare for, respond to, and recover from disaster, no matter their age or ability.


Woman with disability talking to a disaster responder in a shelter

My Safety, My Needs, My Responsibility

In order to be safe, everyone — including those with a disability — must consider their unique needs during a disaster or emergency. It is important to consider needs in all areas, including medical, mobility, medication, daily living, communication, independence, support/supervision, transportation, social/emotional, and physical needs.

This takes time and some work, and may require the assistance of friends, family, or caregivers to help consider what might be needed in an emergency.

We love this resource – "Ready Now!" – from the Oregon Health and Science University, produced in cooperation with the Oregon Office on Disability and Health (OODH) Institute of Development & Disability (IDD).

Click here for the English version of "Ready Now!"

Click here for the Spanish version, ¡Listo Ahora!

The C-MIST Framework for Identifying Needs is a tool for identifying the functional needs of people with disabilities, or others who have access and functional needs, before, during, and after a disaster. C-MIST includes:

  • Communication
  • Maintaining Health
  • Independence
  • Safety, Support Services, and Self-Determination
  • Transportation

The New Hampshire Disability and Public Health Project has produced this tool to help people with disabilities assess, brainstorm, and develop a plan.

Click here to access the C-MIST planning tool.


There are eight (8) Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) Parent Centers throughout the United States that provide training and programming to youth and young adults with disabilities, their families, professionals, and other Parent Centers. The focus is on issues surrounding youth transition.


RSA Parent Centers are funded by the Rehabilitation Service Administration (RSA) under the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), which is part of the US Department of Education.

Peak parent Center's Project POWER logo

In this issue of RAISE, we highlight PEAK Parent Centers. Their Project POWER is a Parent Training and Information Center, funded by the Rehabilitation Services Administration, that supports parent centers in Region D2 (Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah) to build capacity for their transitioning youth with disabilities ages 14–26 and their families.

Project POWER has a commitment to making materials accessible to multiple audiences and will do its best to make its information and services available in other languages, whenever possible.

Click here to learn more about Project Power.


Each month, they feature a new resource. Click here to access their “Social Connectedness for Disabled Youth” resource, which is featured for the month of October.


icon with several books on a bluish green circular background offers a comprehensive site with information from the Fedearl Office of Emergency Management (FEMA).

US Department of Labor's (DOL) website has tools and guidelines to help employers plan for employees with disabilities.

US DOL offer guidelines for use of staircase during an emergency.

Access a mobile Ap from FEMA to receive real time weather alerts, locate emergency resources and prepare for common hazards.

FEMA "Commuter Emergency Plan" form.

CDC Directory of State resources and preparedness tools for people with disabilities.

Video produced by the North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities to help plan for a disaster.

Smart911 offers tools and resources to plan for emergencies.

National Network for Training on ADA.

Guidance from on how to develop a "Go Kit."

Resources from Family Voices to help families prepare for emergencies.

American Academy of Pediatrics resource for families.

RAISE The Standard

Collaboration • Empowerment • Capacity-building

RAISE The Standard enewsletter identifies and shares resources that the Rehabilitation Services Administration Parent Training and Information Centers (RSA-PTI) can use and share with families.

Executive Editor:

Josie Badger

Visit our Website:

The RAISE Technical Assistance Center is working to advance the accessibility of its digital resources, including its websites, enewsletters and various digital documents.

* For more on SPAN Parent Advocacy Network and all of the complementary programs supported, visit


RAISE, the National Resources for Access, Independence, Self-Advocacy and Employment is a user-centered technical assistance center that understands the needs and assets of the RSA-PTIs, coordinates efforts with the Technical Assistance provided by PTI centers and involves RSA-PTIs as key advisors and partners in all product and service development and delivery.

US Dept of Education logo seal

The RAISE Center is a project of the SPAN Parent Advocacy Network and is funded by the US Department of Education's Rehabilitation Service Administration. The contents of this resource were developed under a cooperative agreement with the US Department of Education (H235G200007)). However, the contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education and should not assume endorsement by the federal government.

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