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Resources on Accessible Emergency Notification,
Communication, and Preparedness

Many organizations and individuals have prepared reports on emergency notification, communication, and preparedness for individuals with disabilities.  The following reports have been arranged into the categories Deafness Related, Emergency Notification and Communication, Emergency Preparation for Employers and Employees, and Research. Also listed below are other organizations that have developed programs related to Emergency Preparedness for people with disabilities.


National Organization on Disability Report on Special Needs Assessment for Katrina Evacuees (SNAKE) Project  

The purpose of this project was to capture a snapshot in time through a representative sampling of experiences and observations on the ground after Hurricane Katrina. This project is meant to be an immediate capture of ground information to inform further reviews.  This report includes an overview of the project, shelter assessments, short and long-term issues and recommendations, and policy issues.

 MS Word      PDF


Interagency Coordinating Council on Emergency Preparedness and Individuals with Disabilities (Interagency Council)

The Interagency Coordinating Council on Emergency Preparedness and Individuals with Disabilities was established to ensure that the Federal government appropriately supports safety and security for individuals with disabilities in disaster situations.

The purpose of the Council is to consider, in their emergency preparedness planning, the unique needs of agency employees with disabilities and individuals with disabilities whom the agency serves; encourage, including through the provision of technical assistance, consideration of the unique needs of employees and individuals with disabilities served by State, local, and tribal governments, and private organizations and individuals in emergency preparedness planning; and facilitate cooperation among Federal, State, local, and tribal governments and private organizations and individuals in the implementation of emergency preparedness plans as they relate to individuals with disabilities.


Interagency Coordinating Council 2005 Annual Report:
Individuals with Disabilities in Emergency Preparedness

Executive Order 13347

PDF version


 Emergency Preparedness Now

Emergency Preparedness NOW is a quarterly produced newsletter that communicates Interagency Coordinating Council activities, features effective emergency preparedness practices and spotlights individuals who make a positive impact on emergency preparedness for individuals with disabilities.

President George W. Bush
July 22, 2004

President Bush signed an Executive Order that seeks to fully integrate people with disabilities into the national emergency preparedness effort. The Executive Order built on the President’s New Freedom Initiative to fully integrate people with disabilities into all aspects of society and creates an Interagency Coordinating Council on Emergency Preparedness and Individuals with Disabilities (Interagency Council).  The Executive Order directs the federal government to address the safety and security needs of people with disabilities.  Those needs arise in emergency situations including natural and man-made disasters, such as earthquakes, tornadoes, fires, floods, hurricanes, and acts of terrorism.  The Interagency Council will oversee the implementation of this policy.

Access to Emergency Alerts for People with Disabilities
The CPB/WGBH NCAM – National Center for Accessible Media

October 2004 - September 2007

The Access to Emergency Alerts project unites emergency alert providers, local information resources, telecommunications industry and public broadcasting representatives, and consumers in a collaborative effort to research and disseminate replicable approaches to make emergency warnings accessible. Alert systems, services and products are developing a range of text and audio alert capabilities that have the potential to serve people with disabilities but most are inconsistent in terms of fully supporting appropriate modalities and accessible interfaces.

CEPIN Project (Community Emergency Preparedness Information Network)

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has awarded Telecommunications for the Deaf, Inc. (TDI) nearly $1.5 million in a two-year project, called the Community Emergency Preparedness Information Network (or the CEPIN Project) to develop model community education programs for deaf and hard of hearing consumers. TDI will coordinate efforts by specialists in four centers throughout America in promoting emergency preparedness.

Emergency Preparedness Initiative (EPI)
a program of the National Organization on Disability

Compelled by the attacks of September 11, 2001, N.O.D. launched the Emergency Preparedness Initiative (EPI) to ensure that emergency managers address disability concerns and that people with disabilities are included in all levels of emergency preparedness- planning, response, and recovery.

FEMA: Accomodating Individuals with Disabilities in the Provision of Disaster Mass Care, Housing, and Human Service

Reference Guide
The Reference Guide was originally developed in response to the requirement of H.R. 5441 (PL 109-295), Section 689: Individuals with Disabilities, to develop disability related guidelines for use by those who serve individuals with disabilities in emergency preparedness and disaster relief. This Guide is not intended to satisfy all of the guidance requirements contained in Section 689.  Additional guidelines to accommodate individuals with disabilities will be issued in the future.


RERC on Telecommunications Access


Deafness Related

Hurricane Aftermath:  The Gallaudet Response

A team of Gallaudet social workers, psychologists, and mental health counselors trained in Disaster Mental Health Services (DMHS) traveled to Baton Rouge and Houston to volunteer their services to the Deaf Community in response to Hurricane Katrina.  This PowerPoint presentation details their experiences and what they believe still needs to be done to aid Deaf people in disaster situations.

Accessibility of Emergency Video Programming to Persons with Hearing and Visual Disabilities

FCC Consumer Facts

This document explains the FCC rules that require broadcasters and cable operators to make local emergency information accessible to persons who are deaf or hard of hearing, and to persons who are blind or have visual disabilities.  This means that emergency information must be provided both aurally and in a visual format. Video programming distributors include broadcasters, cable operators, satellite television services (such as DirecTV and the Dish Network), and other multichannel video programming distributors.


Emergency Preparedness and Emergency Communication Access

Lessons Learned Since 9/11 and Recommendations

Consumer Advocacy Network for Deaf & Hard of Hearing Persons
December 2004

This report includes an extensive list of recommendations designed to increase the number and variety of communication options, ensure reliability, and build in redundancy in the development of an effective emergency communication system for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.


Emergency Warnings: Notification of Deaf or Hard of Hearing People

Deaf and hard of hearing people have very limited access to critical weather and emergency information sources. In an emergency, they experience fear and frustration, and may make poor safety decisions since they are uninformed about the nature or scope of the emergency.  The NAD believes that many broadcasters and public emergency management agencies are not aware of their legal responsibilities to modify their information procedures. New techniques and technology are available to help make sure that deaf or hard of hearing people know about emergencies, and how to respond.  This document describes some of the technology available.


Emergency Notification and Communication


Alerting America

A Directory of Public Warning Products, Services & Technologies

Partnership for Public Warning
October 2004

 This directory provides information regarding the state-of-the art in public warning products, services and technologies.  It has been prepared to assist emergency managers, government officials, decision makers and the public in understanding and locating public warning options.


An Advanced EAS Relay Network Using the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP)

by Art Botterell

The Emergency Alert System (EAS) is the nation’s best-known public warning system, but recent studies have identified limits inherent in its design. Other systems augment EAS, but have many of the same limitations. A Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) has been developed through an international standards process. A design concept and nonproprietary architecture for a consolidated public warning network based on EAS and CAP is described.


Common Alerting Protocol, v. 1.0

OASIS Standard 200402, March 2004

Document identifier: oasis-200402-cap-core-1.0


Editor: Art Botterell, Partnership for Public Warning <>

The Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) is a simple but general format for exchanging allhazard emergency alerts and public warnings over all kinds of networks. CAP allows a consistent warning message to be disseminated simultaneously over many different warning systems, thus increasing warning effectiveness while simplifying the warning task. This document describes the CAP Protocol.


E-911 Stakeholders' Council Meeting

On May 9, 2006, Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI) took the initiative, along with NorCal Center on Deafness (Sacramento, CA) and Gallaudet University to invite representatives of the public safety sector, industry, government,  consumer groups and other stakeholders to participate in the E-911 Stakeholder Council to review current issues in E-911 access and services, and to recommend a plan of action to address and fulfill its potential capacity in public safety and emergency preparedness for people who are deaf and hard of hearing across America. 

The Council reviewed current and future consumer needs, existing government policy, challenges and limited resources for public safety officials and the business community, emerging technologies, and the wider range of emergencies that affect the daily lives of consumers who are deaf and hard of hearing, and their community network.  The goal is to ensure that in the future people who are deaf or hard of hearing have ease of access to 9-1-1 services directly, using updated technologies, and through all approved forms of telecommunications relay services.  It has become clear in recent months that there needs to be put in place a more current national policy on accessible E-911 services for people who are deaf and hard of hearing.


Effective Disaster Warnings

Report by the Working Group on Natural Disaster Information Systems

Subcommittee on Natural Disaster Reduction
National Science and Technology Council
Committee on Environment and Natural Resources
November 2000


Emergency Telephone Notification:  Critical Requirements

Prepared by Intrado – 2003

Using the telephone to distribute event-specific information to distinct portions of the population in times of crisis is rapidly becoming a ”must have” tool for public safety organizations nationwide. Emergency notification via wireline telephone has tremendous potential. After reviewing existing alternatives, this white paper examines the critical requirements needed to ensure that your organization understands the dynamics involved in successfully realizing this potential.


NOAA – The voice of the National Weather Service

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Weather Service
May 1999

NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts National Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day. Known as the "voice of the National Weather Service," NOAA Weather Radio is provided as a public service by the Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


Protecting America’s Communities: An Introduction to Public Alert & Warning

Partnership for Public Warning
June 2004

This document provides a brief overview of the many considerations that should be taken into account when developing or evaluating a public warning process and system.


 Public Alert & Warning – A National Duty, A National Challenge:

Implementing the Vision

Partnership For Public Warning

This document provides information on how to create a national consensus on a national, all-hazard public warning capability that will provide citizens at risk during times of emergency with timely and useful information to enable them to take appropriate actions to save lives and property.


Emergency Preparation for Employers and Employees


Emergency Evacuation Preparedness: Taking Responsibility for Your Safety

A Guide for People with Disabilities and Other Activity Limitations

By June Isaacson Kailes, Disability Policy Consultant, Playa del Rey, California

and The Center for Disability Issues and the Health Professions, Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona, California,



Emergency Plans That Include Workers with Disabilities

By: Nan Hawthorne

This article provides useful information for employers on how to include employees with disabilities in emergency and evacuation plans.


Emergency Preparedness Initiative

Guide on the Special Needs of People with Disabilities For Emergency Managers, Planners & Responders

Revised Edition – 2005

National Organization on Disability

The purpose of this document is to ensure that people with disabilities are included in emergency preparedness planning and response at all levels of our society.


Emergency Procedures for Employees with Disabilities in Office Occupancies

Federal Emergency Management Agency
United States Fire Administration
June 1995


Employers' Guide to Including Employees with Disabilities In Emergency Evacuation Plans

By Linda Carter Batiste, J.D., and Beth Loy, Ph.D.

Interest in emergency evacuation planning has increased dramatically since the September 11 terrorist attacks. In turn, the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) started receiving more calls from employers requesting information about their legal obligation to develop emergency evacuation plans and how to include employees with disabilities in such plans.  This publication addresses these issues.


Preparing the Workplace for Everyone: Accounting for the Needs of People with Disabilities

A Template of Emergency Preparedness Guidelines for Federal Agencies

Interagency Coordinating Council on Emergency Preparedness and Individuals with Disabilities
Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness in the Workplace

Preparing the Workplace for Everyone is meant to serve as a launching point for federal agencies as they re-evaluate and strengthen their Occupant Emergency Plans (OEPs), which are required for all federal agencies by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). This template of guidelines reflects the effective practices of nearly 20 federal agencies gathered from direct input, existing reports and articles, and actual emergency plans.


General Emergency Preparedness

Disability Preparedness Resource Center
Prepared by the Department of Homeland Security, this disability preparedness web site provides practical information on how people with and without disabilities can prepare for an emergency. It also provides information for family members of, and service providers to, people with disabilities.  In addition, this site includes information for emergency planners and first responders to help them to better prepare for serving persons with disabilities.

Disaster Preparedness - Reasoning WHY Physical,

Emotional and Financial Preparedness for Disabled Citizens, Physical, Emotional and Financial

July 1999

This informational brochure on disaster planning was written by people with disabilities -for the disabled citizen with a physical, emotional, sensory or cognitive disability.  

HELPU Fire and Life Safety
Ms. Leslie Little - Director
1409 B North Mt. Vernon Avenue
Williamsburg, Va. USA 23185-2819
(757) 221-0542 Office


Disaster Preparedness for People with Disabilities

American Red Cross Disaster Services

This booklet has been designed to help people who have physical, visual, auditory, or cognitive disabilities to prepare for natural disasters and their consequences.


A Guide to Organizing Neighborhoods for Preparedness, Response and Recovery

Developed by the Volunteer Center of Marin County, California



Disaster Mitigation for People with Disabilities:

A Research Resource Guide

This guide has been written to serve as an index of relevant literature in the field of disaster mitigation for people with disabilities. It is divided into four sections: laws relating to disaster mitigation, disaster preparation, disaster response, and post-disaster response.


Redefining Readiness: Terrorism Planning Through the Eyes of the Public

Prepared by Roz D. Lasker

Center for the Advancement of Collaborative Strategies in Health
The New York Academy of Medicine
September 14, 2004

Funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation

The Redefining Readiness Study reports on how Americans describe how they would react to protective instructions in two terrorist attacks: a smallpox outbreak and the explosion of a dirty bomb.

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