New Online Tool Helps People with Disabilities to Be Emergency Ready

Posted on

May 31, 2022

Laurel Goodroe
(832) 681-8215

AUSTIN ─ Tomorrow will mark the first day of another hurricane season. In Texas, recent extreme weather and other disasters and emergencies have had a disproportionate impact on people with disabilities who are less likely to have the tools or have the awareness of available resources to help them be adequately prepared and make choices. And once a disaster or emergency occurs, they are also less likely to have meaningful access to resources they may need to ensure an equitable response and recovery.

A collaborative of disability- and emergency-related organizations developed the Emergency Ready Sheet to provide one tool to help with individual preparedness. This new tool is designed to help people with disabilities have important information collected in one place so they can be prepared and react quickly when a disaster or emergency strikes.

The Emergency Ready Sheet has information a person with a disability might need before, during, and after a disaster or emergency. It also promotes self-advocacy as people with disabilities will be better prepared to pose questions to the right people. The Emergency Ready Sheet asks questions about healthcare needs, disaster preparedness plans, local emergency contacts, and more. If a person with a disability is evacuated or if her home is damaged, she’ll have a document that she can share with emergency responders and shelter personnel to ensure she receives the appropriate services and supports during a disaster or emergency.

After submitting information entered into an online form, the tool generates a PDF of that person’s unique Emergency Ready Sheet. The document can be printed and placed into a person’s Go Bag, or downloaded and saved to their device. This free tool is available in English and Spanish. Assistance is available for people with disabilities who need help filling out the form.

“The Emergency Ready Sheet is a critical tool that will help Texans with disabilities be more adequately prepared for all types of disasters and emergencies,” said Stephanie Duke, an attorney with Disability Rights Texas. “This preparedness resource is also meant to facilitate self-advocacy, by prompting discussions with people and entities that provide necessary supports and services, not only in day-to-day activities, but also for emergency response and recovery measures.”

“Working collaboratively with disability stakeholders throughout Texas, a well thought out and comprehensive emergency planning tool was created,” said Tammy Goodwin, FEMA Region 6 Disability Integration Advisor. “This planning tool is catered to the specific medical, transportation, social, and physical needs of individuals with a disability to assist them in preparing for and responding to emergencies. This tool can be used not only for weather disasters that Texans normally anticipate, but also for everyday isolated emergencies that could happen in their home such as a fire, extended power and/or water outage, or medical emergency, as it assists individuals and their support system in understanding their needs and the systems in place to respond.”

“Texas Deaf Chamber of Commerce is pleased to be involved with this project, which addresses the communication access challenges experienced by the Deaf community during disasters,” said Jason Shaw, President and Chair of Texas Deaf Chamber of Commerce. “To help members of the Deaf community be prepared for disasters, we are constantly sharing information and raising awareness about the importance of being prepared. Collaborating with a group of stakeholder organizations on a tool like the Emergency Ready Sheet is one part of our ongoing efforts in this area.”

The collaborative that developed the Emergency Ready Sheet includes the American Red Cross – Southwest and Rocky Mountain Division, Disability Rights Texas, the FEMA Region 6 Disability Integration Team, the National Federation of the Blind of Texas, North Texas Disability Chamber, the Rio Grande Valley Disability Chamber of Commerce, Texas Deaf Chamber of Commerce, the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Travis County Emergency Management, and Williamson County and Cities Health District.

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Disability Rights Texas is the federally designated legal protection and advocacy agency (P&A) for people with disabilities in Texas established in 1977. Its mission is to help people with disabilities understand and exercise their rights under the law, ensuring their full and equal participation in society. Visit www.DRTx.org for more information.