FEMA Works to Ensure Equal Access to All Disaster Survivors

ST. CROIX, VIRGIN ISLANDS: To ensure all U.S. Virgin Islanders have equal access to disaster assistance programs, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is coordinating with federal, territorial and local agencies as well as volunteer organizations to identify survivors’ needs and connect them with resources.

Disaster Recovery Centers

Photo: FEMA U.S. Virgin Islands

“Disasters negatively affect everyone in the community, but senior citizens and individuals with disabilities or access and functional needs often face additional challenges,” said FEMA’s Federal Coordinating Officer William Vogel. “Ensuring disaster survivors have the resources to participate fully in the recovery process is our commitment to all Virgin Islanders.”

FEMA’s Disability Integration team has been in the Virgin Islands since Hurricane Irma to help coordinate the broad effort to assist all survivors. Team members are working closely with FEMA Individual Assistance specialists, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Virgin Islands Department of Health Services, the American Red Cross, the territory’s aging and social services programs and other partners to get goods and services to the islands’ most vulnerable survivors. These include medical services and durable medical equipment, pharmacies that can meet medication needs, relief supplies provided by voluntary agencies and many other services.

They also visit survivors in their homes to check on their well-being and ensure their needs are being met.

“Our top priority is to make sure no one gets left behind as we deliver assistance to all disaster survivors,” said Roxann Crawford, who leads FEMA’s Disability Integration team in the U.S. Virgin Islands. “Our specialists are out in the communities every day, making connections with survivors who may have been disproportionately impacted by the disasters.”

In coordination with territorial agencies and volunteer organizations, Disability Integration works with senior centers, local American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters, disability rights and independent living centers, and special education programs. They attend these groups’ meetings to share post-disaster health and safety tips, important community updates such as boil water advisories, as well as locations that are providing supplies, emergency food, first aid and medical care. The specialists also assist in getting survivors registered with FEMA for assistance.

In addition, Disability Integration has worked with FEMA’s External Affairs staff to develop videos in American Sign Language (ASL) for posting on FEMA’s Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/FEMAUSVirginIslands. And the team ensures Disaster Recovery Centers across the territory are set up to fully accommodate survivors. The recovery centers are all physically accessible, and are equipped with amplified and captioned phones, assisted listening devices, magnifiers and video relay interpreting on iPads.

The team also provides ASL interpreters for meetings and for survivors who request this assistance during their housing inspection. Survivors may ask for an ASL interpreter at the time the housing appointment is made or they may call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362.  Disaster survivors who are deaf, hard-of-hearing or have a speech disability and use a TTY may call 800-462-7585. Those who use 711 or Video Relay Service may call 800-621-3362.

“All hurricane survivors are encourage to call the FEMA Helpline to let us know if there is a need our Disability Integration staff can help with,” said Crawford. “FEMA is just one part of the massive recovery effort in the Virgin Islands. If we don’t have the assistance you need, we can put you in touch with partners who may be able to help.”

 

Workshop to Provide Vital Disaster Strategies for the Bay Area Disability Community

SAN MATEO, CALIF.:  People with disabilities, their families, caregivers, seniors, wounded vets and healthcare professionals attending Abilities Expo (#AbilitiesExpo) on October 27-29, 2017 at the San Mateo County Event Center (Expo Hall) are eagerly anticipating the “Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities” workshop on October 27 at 1:00pm, as well as the opportunity to discover the latest products, education and fun for all ages.

Lock, Cover, Hold On, Earthquake Preparedness for persons with disabilities“It’s not just that we provide a forum that showcases essential technology to bridge the gap between ability and disability,” said David Korse, president and CEO of Abilities Expo. “The Expo is always new and exciting with a host of all-inclusive, adaptive activities.”

Admission to Abilities Expo is free and show hours are Friday and Saturday 11 am to 5 pm and Sunday 11 am to 4 pm.

Complimentary loaner scooters, wheelchair repair and sign language interpreters are also be available during show hours.

Childcare Play Pavilion

The Childcare Play Pavilion will provide a safe, secure place for children to spend quality time in play and recreation with trained volunteers. This allows their parents to attend a workshop, enjoy an event, or engage in discussions with exhibitors kid-free.

Latest Products and Services

Attendees experience cutting-edge products and services for people with a wide range of disabilities. They will find mobility products, devices for people with developmental disabilities, medical equipment, home accessories, essential services, low-cost daily living aids, products for people with sensory impairments and more. The Assistive Technology Showcase features cutting-edge AT for people to experience hands-on.

Relevant Workshops

A series of compelling workshops on emergency preparedness, travel, intimacy, therapeutic cannabis, alternative therapies, maximizing well-being and selecting the right accessible vehicle are offered free-of-charge to all attendees. On October 29, caregivers are welcome for sessions on stress relief, better sleep and financial planning.

Adaptive Sports, Dancing, Assistance Animals and More

Abilities Expo engages and entertains. Attendees can let loose with daily dance demos led by wheelchair dancing pioneer Auti Angel, relax in a yoga session, enjoy service dog demos and test their skills with adaptive sports like the lacrosse, rowing, rugby, racing and tennis.

For more information, visit http://www.abilities.com/bayarea

Natural Disasters Encourage Web Accessibility Discussion

PROVIDENCE, RI: The recent natural disasters of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have refocused the discussion on the need for universal web accessibility, particularly for those with a disability.

Disability sign in place of enter keyPersons with disabilities need to have access to inclusive online apps and resources that not only keep them informed of weather conditions, but also offer them a means to communicate in the instance that they are stranded and need assistance or rescue. While some apps, like the one developed by the American Red Cross, still need work to make the user experience universally accessible, other groups, like FEMA and others organizations around the world, have made important strides in tackling accessibility issues in the realm of disaster preparedness and relief.

Some are developing apps to aid humanitarian and rescue workers create accommodating environments for those with disabilities. Others are creating a means by which those with hearing or visual impairments can communicate effectively with aid teams.

Source: BOIA

Leaving no one behind – achieving disability-inclusive disaster risk management

Natural hazard events can occur in any country, at any time. At present, India, Bangladesh, and Nepal are dealing with the aftermath of some of the worst monsoon flooding in years, which has left more than 1,200 people dead and millions homeless. At the same time, North America and the Caribbean region are responding to some of the strongest hurricanes on record.

At such times of peril, individual and community resilience is at a premium, and we cannot afford to miss opportunities to bolster that resilience wherever possible. This is especially true with respect to certain groups – such as persons with disabilities – who have historically been disproportionately affected by natural hazards.

While some strides have been made in addressing the needs of persons with different disabilities in response and recovery efforts, fewer efforts are aimed at incorporating lessons into long-term disaster and climate risk management at a systemic and/or policy level.

More needs to be done to create disability inclusion for all – a topic that will be discussed during a Facebook Live chat on September 19 at 10 am ET: facebook.com/worldbank

Such approaches are necessary, not only to ensure that persons with disabilities are not disproportionately impacted by natural hazards, but because disability-inclusive disaster risk management (DRM) interventions have the potential to benefit all members of society. For this to happen though, there must be more coordination and cross-sector synergies between the DRM and disability communities.

On August 30, a group of experts met at the World Bank in Washington, D.C., to discuss the inclusion of persons with disabilities in disaster risk management (DRM). This consultation was the first of its kind for the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR). Led by the Disability Stakeholder Group, the impact and influence of bringing together hundreds of persons with disabilities, and representatives disability organizations worldwide resulted in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction leading as the most disability-inclusive international mainstream framework, which clearly sets out how implementers operationalize disability issues.

Aligning with the Sendai Framework priorities for disaster risk reduction, the participants to the experts’ convening identified several issues on disability-inclusive DRM, including:

  • Recognize theUN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as one of the key instruments for DRM. In particular, Article 11 states that “parties shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk, including situations of armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies and the occurrence of natural disasters.”
  • Effective and meaningful participation of persons with disabilities in all DRM initiatives, ensuring empowerment in becoming key implementation stakeholders, as defined in theSendai Framework Section V 36(a)(iii). By coordinating efforts between disaster risk management experts and disability experts, we are supporting cross-learning and capacity development between the two sectors.
  • Consider intersectionality between different at-risk groups, and avoid “one-size-fits-all” solutions as a recipe for inclusion. Disability does not form a homogenous group, but rather brings together a wide range of people that cuts across all other at-risk groups (gender, poor households, children, ethnic minorities etc.). This necessitates bringing a set of unique expertise and capacities that should be recognized and used to enhance community resilience.
  • Consider the interrelationship between the different international and national policies that contribute to DRM, and strengthen the inclusion and capacity of persons with disabilities.
  • Consider all risks, and take measures to mitigate structural, social and economic risks that directly affect persons with disabilities.
  • Develop a data collection system that considers age, gender, and disability disaggregated data. (See, for example, the Washington City Group short set of questions.) Additionally, identify a set of voluntary indicators that can be used by governments and other stakeholders to track their progress in including persons with disabilities in their disaster risk management programs.
  • Ensure that recommendations address different levels of engagement, from community level up to larger systemic levels.
  • Ensure that DRM actions across the Sendai Framework are undertaken with a comprehensive approach to accessibility and universal design. For example, community consultations to prepare disaster response plans, early warning systems, disaster response mechanisms, and recovery efforts, will all benefit from being accessible to persons with disabilities and others.

The World Bank Group, through the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), is committed to supporting country implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. The rich discussion has provided a clear outline for the development of a report on disability-inclusive DRM as we shape the recommendations and actions for including persons with disabilities in the World Bank and GDFRR’s disaster risk management investments.

By Charlotte Mcclain-Nhlapo
Source: World Bank

Abilities Expo Emergency Preparedness Workshop to Provide Vital Disaster Strategies for Boston’s Disability Community

BOSTON: People with disabilities, their families, caregivers, seniors, wounded vets and healthcare professionals attending Abilities Expo (#AbilitiesExpo) on September 8-10, 2017 at the Boston Convention and Exposition Center are eagerly anticipating the “Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities” workshop on September 8 at 2:30pm, as well as the opportunity to discover the latest products, education and fun for all ages.

Emergency Checklist and hand with ballpoint pen“It’s not just that we provide a forum that showcases essential technology to bridge the gap between ability and disability,” said David Korse, president and CEO of Abilities Expo. “The Expo is always new and exciting with a host of all-inclusive, adaptive activities.”

Admission to Abilities Expo is free and show hours are Friday and Saturday 11 am to 5 pm and Sunday 11 am to 4 pm.

Complimentary loaner scooters, wheelchair repair and sign language interpreters are also be available during show hours.

Abilities Meet Up Zone
The Abilities Meet Up Zone is a dedicated area on the show floor where attendees can interact with both peers and experts. Many workshop and event presenters stop by the Zone to engage one-on-one with attendees. And kids love the face painting and photo booth.

Latest Products and Services
Attendees experience cutting-edge products and services for people with a wide range of disabilities. They will find mobility products, devices for people with developmental disabilities, medical equipment, home accessories, essential services, low-cost daily living aids, products for people with sensory impairments and more. The Assistive Technology Showcase features cutting-edge AT for people to experience hands-on.

Relevant Workshops
A series of compelling workshops on emergency preparedness, travel, horse therapy, therapeutic cannabis, pediatric therapies and more are offered free-of-charge to all attendees. On September 10, caregivers are welcome for sessions on stress relief, better sleep and future planning. CEU-earning seminars for physical therapists, occupational therapists and disability professionals are available on September 8.

Adaptive Sports, Dancing, Assistance Animals and More
Abilities Expo engages and entertains. Attendees can let loose with daily dance demos led by Chelsie Hill and the Rollettes, enjoy service dog demos and test their skills with adaptive sports like the NEW wheelchair boarding, golf, power soccer and handcycling. They will also get to meet WCMX athlete Jerry Diaz.

For more information, visit http://www.abilities.com/boston.

 

UNISDR Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction

CANCUN: The fifth session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction will take place 22-26 May, 2017 in Cancun, Mexico.

The Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is co-organized the Permanent Mission of Mexico and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).

The conference will focus on how to reduce loss of life and economic losses from disasters caused by manmade and natural hazards. Several thousand representatives of governments, international organizations and civil society are expected to attend the event, which comes at a time when millions are food insecure because of a very strong El Niño.

The conference aims to encourage countries and others to go beyond disaster management to addressing the risks that lead to greater losses from disasters, including poverty, unplanned urbanization, environmental degradation and poor risk governance.

The Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (GPDRR), which was established in 2007 and takes place every two years, provides the opportunity for exchanging information, discussing the latest developments and knowledge, and building partnerships across sectors. It aims to improve DRR implementation through better communication and coordination amongst stakeholders, and build resilience. The UNISDR is also the secretariat of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.

For more information, go to www.unisdr.org/conferences/2017/globalplatform/en

Seminar on Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities in Disaster Management

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, INDIA: The National Institute of Speech & Hearing (NISH) will conduct the 19th online International Disability Awareness Seminar in association with the Directorate of Social Justice on May 20.

The seminar, which will deal with the topic of ‘Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities in disaster management,’ will be handled by Joe John George, State Project Officer, UNDP project, State Emergency Operation Centre under the State Disaster Management Authority.

According to a press note, the live seminar will commence on the NISH campus at 10.30 a.m. It will be simultaneously presented at all the District Child Protection Units (DCPU) offices via the Internet. The two- and-a-half-hour programme in Malayalam would be to reach out to larger numbers of parents and caregivers, who were not aware of the implications of disability, the organisers said.

Those interested in participating in the programme from the DCPU offices in each district may contact the Child Protection Units Officer nearest to them and avail themselves of the telephonic registration process.

Participants from the district could contact the District Child Protection officers at 0471-2345121, 8281128237. They could also attend from NISH after telephonic registration by contacting NISH in 0471- 3066658.

Those interested may also register on the website http://nish.ac.in/others/ news/551. Participants should either have a personal computer, laptop or tablet along with reliable high speed Internet connectivity, webcam and microphone.

Source: Hindu

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India to host international conference on disaster risk reduction

NEW DELHI: India will host the Asian ministerial conference for disaster risk reduction next month which will focus on partnership with governments and stakeholders to imbibe the practices in the region’s development narrative.

This is the first AMCDRR after the advent of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRRR), adopted at the third UN World Conference in Sendai, Japan in March, 2015. It will set the direction of Sendai Framework implementation in the region.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the conference that will be held here on November 3-5 in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).

The conference aims at transforming the commitments of governments and stakeholders during the Sendai Conference into national and local action.

The hosting of the conference re-affirms India’s commitment to the cause of disaster risk reduction, an official statement said.

Established in 2005, AMCDRR is a biennial conference jointly organised by different Asian countries and the UNISDR.

So far, six AMCDRR conferences have been organised. India had also hosted the second AMCDRR in New Delhi in 2007. India’s commitment to Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is evident from the fact that it became one of the first countries to align its National Disaster Management Plan (NDMP) with SFDRRR.

The meet will focus on collaboration, consultation and partnership with governments and stakeholders to mainstream DRR in the region’s development narrative.

The conference will adopt the ‘Asian Regional Plan for Implementation of the Sendai Framework’ endorsed by the Asian countries. It will also consolidate the political commitment of governments towards preventing and reducing risk as well as strengthening resilience in the form of a political declaration, the statement said.

Source: Mumbaimirror