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Are You Ready?

Emergency Preparedness for Individuals with Disabilities

The words "are you ready?" outlined by a box under a megaphone.This resource includes a webinar on strategies in preparing individuals who have a variety of needs for disasters and emergencies, including individuals who use assistive technology (AT). The resource also includes a brochure on “Emergency Preparedness for People Who Use Assistive Technology”.

“Are You Ready? Emergency Preparedness for Individuals with Disabilities” was recorded on September 12, 2014. Presented by Jamie Arasz Prioli, RESNA ATP, Assistive Technology Specialist Reused and Exchanged Equipment Partnership Coordinator (REEP), Institute on Disabilities.

Plan for the possible need to evacuate your home and do an assessment of the assistive technology (AT) you use in your home.  In addition, make sure you have what you need to shelter in place.  Compile a list of the AT critical to support your physical well-being and ability to communicate during an emergency.  Have an appropriate back-up power supply and know how long the power supply lasts.  The following questions will assist you in developing a list of AT used in your daily life.

Do You Use Assistive Technology?

  • To assist you with mobility?
  • To help with your personal care?
  • To help you during meal time?
  • For Communication?
  • For transfers?
  • For transportation?

Accessible Routes

  • If you live in an apartment complex ask about evacuation plans and routes. Check the routes for accessibility and make sure that designated areas of shelter are clearly marked.
  • Gather information about how first responders will be directed to residents with disability related needs.

  • Evaluate your assistive Technology (AT) needs in a workplace evacuation. Do you have personal AT that needs to be evacuated with you? Make sure you have what you need to shelter in place. Do you need AT to alert you to a disaster and the need to evacuate the building?
  • Become familiar with the evacuation procedures of your workplace and consider how a disaster may impact your ability to leave the building safely.
  • Elevators may not be available for evacuation. If the elevators are not working, learn the evacuation plan if you cannot use the stairs.
  • If you have a mobility impairment, know what AT can assist with evacuation. If there is AT available, where is it located and is it easily accessible? Is someone trained to use it? If AT is not available, ask if your employer can purchase it.
  • If you are asked to go to a designated place to wait for help, confirm how the first responders will be notified where you are located.
  • If you have a hearing and/or visual impairment make sure there is a working alert system in place.
  • Be responsible for your own safety. Develop your own evacuation plan. Do not depend on just one person to assist you. Create a support network to ensure assistance will be available.

  • Let your local fire department and/or utility company know about your special needs.
  • If you have a power wheelchair, consider having a manual chair as a backup. If you use a custom wheelchair for medical support (e.g. ventilator or oxygen), attach information to it for the first responders.
  • Store backup equipment at another location.
  • Teach others in your support system how to use your AT and attach laminated instructions.
  • Keep critical AT charged and have backup batteries. Purchase a portable external USB battery charger for USB devices.
  • Make plans for someone to notify you of an emergency if you are deaf, hard of hearing or have vision impairment.
  • Have a corded land line phone that does not use electricity. A land line phone or cell phone can be used during a power outage.
  • Plan for taking AT with you. Remember to take chargers and other components with you!
  • Label or tag your AT with your contact information.
  • Register your AT with the manufacturer.
  • Take a photograph of yourself using your AT. This helps clearly identify the AT belongs to you!
  • Keep photographs and a record of all AT serial numbers in a safe location (safe deposit box).
  • Think about how you might go about obtaining a shortterm (or long-term) replacement for your AT, if needed. Contact the Pass It On Center or Pennsylvania’s Initiative on Assistive Technology (PIAT) at 1-800-204-7428 (voice) or 1-866-268-0579 (TTY) to find out about obtaining AT.
  • Since homeowner’s/renter’s insurance does not cover damage by ground water, flood insurance may be needed to replace AT lost or damaged in a disaster. Factor in the cost of home or vehicle modifications when determining the replacement value of your home or vehicle.

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This resource created by The Institute of Disabilities at Temple University