State and local governments must comply with Title II of the ADA in the emergency- and disaster-related programs, services, and activities they provide. This requirement applies to programs, services, and activities provided directly by state and local governments as well as those provided through third parties, such as the American Red Cross, private nonprofit organizations, and religious entities.
Under Title II of the ADA, emergency programs, services, activities, and facilities must be accessible to people with disabilities and generally may not use eligibility criteria that screen out or tend to screen out people with disabilities.
The ADA also requires making reasonable modifications to policies, practices, and procedures when necessary to avoid discrimination against a person with a disability and taking the steps necessary to ensure effective communication with people with disabilities.
The ADA generally does not require state or local emergency management programs to take actions that would fundamentally alter the nature of a program, service, or activity or impose undue financial and administrative burdens.
As part of our preparation for emergencies, it is helpful to know ahead of time what resources are available for people with disabilities. If you use durable medical equipment, make sure you know who provides back up equipment (or batteries or oxygen tanks, etc.) in times of emergency. If you use public transportation, verify that you have access to transportation to evacuate through other community organizations if public transit is not available or running.
Because we live in a region with diverse weather and terrain, it’s vital that we all take steps to prepare ourselves and our families for possible disasters. Educate yourself. Learn about the ADA requirements for access to emergency services within your community including access to temporary shelters and disaster recovery centers. Register your phone numbers with your county E9-1-1 service so you receive emergency notifications in a timely manner.
If you use durable medical equipment, make sure you know who provides back up equipment (or batteries or oxygen tanks, etc.) in times of emergency. If you use public transportation, verify that you have access to transportation to evacuate through other community organizations if public transit is not available or running.
It is important that people with disabilities and others interested in access issues get involved with efforts at the local and state levels to ensure that future responses to disasters are more inclusive of people with disabilities. Log on to ready.gov to find ways to participate in emergency preparedness activities in your community. Contact your local center for independent living and volunteer to help with their planning activities. Get in touch with your local emergency preparedness office to volunteer. Get involved. Get a seat at the table. Be part of the discussion and help plan for a more accessible future. It really can mean life or death for people with disabilities in your community.