For people with disabilities, being prepared is often one of the most fundamental skills necessary for coping with complicated medical problems or special needs. Some of us meticulously monitor our medical needs, from staying on top of medications and treatments to keeping a thorough record of symptoms and doctors' appointments. Others navigate the challenges of environments that aren't tailored to their differences by using interpreters or making arrangements to work in accessible buildings. The fact that our needs are not the societal standard means that we must prepare and adapt.
While most of us are professionals when it comes to handling our personal medical emergencies, we are subject to forgetting a vital element of preparedness that is overlooked by most of the population until it is often too late. Emergency preparedness, from fires and floods to natural disasters and terrorist attacks, is essential for all facets of the population. It is particularly important for people with disabilities to make sure they have the supplies and support to manage their individual needs in an emergency situation. In recognition of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency, in conjunction with the Ad Council, has released a special, accessible PSA to remind people with disabilities to make a plan.
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The PSA shows individuals with disabilities, including a deaf family and a wheelchair user, preparing for an emergency. It focuses on four essential points: be informed, make a plan, build a kit, and get involved. In the spirit of true accessibility, they also provide an audio descriptive service, accurate captioning, and a certified deaf interpreter.
In a statement released by the agency, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate recognized that the disability community leads the way in preparedness, and that this skill can serve as an model for the entire country when it comes to preparing for emergency situations: "As we celebrate a quarter century of the ADA, we look to people with disabilities as leading the way. By taking their own preparedness actions every day, they set an example for all of us, including their families and their communities."
FEMA's PSA is an important reminder to all of us that emergency preparedness is essential to our overall medical preparedness, as it is critical that we are able to ensure that our individual, disability-related needs are met in any situation. So, in honor of the resilient spirit of the disability community, take time today to talk with your family and support network about becoming informed, making a plan, building a kit, and getting involved in emergency preparedness today.
For more information on emergency preparedness for people with disabilities, please visit the following resources: