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Disability Inclusive Grantmaking is the mission of DFN: inclusion of disability in grantmaking programs and inclusion of people with disabilities in grantmaking organizations.

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Disability Considerations in Emergency Preparedness: Guidance for Funders

Goals for Including People with Disabilities

  • The disability community, in all its diversity, is a full and active partner in all aspects of emergency preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation. Recognize that disabled people are the experts on their own needs and that they have a unique set of skills and body of knowledge to contribute to the field of emergency work.
  • Agencies, institutions and industries working with the disability community are represented in all aspects of emergency preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation.
  • Those coordinating with federal, state and local disaster planning agencies and with community institutions, agencies and businesses work to ensure that these organizations address the needs of people with disabilities.
    • Principles of universal design are incorporated into plans from the beginning.
    • Disability experts are consulted to ensure that disaster plans meet disability-related legal requirements, including those in the ADA. [While the ADA does not require formal emergency plans, Titles I, II and III of the Act require that employers, public services, plus public accommodations and services operated by private entities modify their policies and procedures to include people with disabilities.]
  • Evacuation plans for all types of buildings and facilities in the community address the needs of people with disabilities and include them in meetings to develop evacuation plans.
    • Plans are reviewed and tested periodically to make sure they are accessible to and workable for people with disabilities.
  • Access for people with all disabilities is incorporated into all emergency planning, response and recovery activities.
    • All emergency preparedness plans, programs and outreach efforts are in formats fully accessible to people with disabilities.
    • All disaster facilities and services, including transportation systems, are fully accessible to people with disabilities.
    • All communication systems used before, during and after a disaster are fully accessible.
  • Communication strategies that target the disability community and disability community needs are included in communications to the general community.
  • Media outlets are included in emergency planning as allies to further ensure that emergency warnings, news and other messages are accessible.
  • Policies and procedures during the rescue and recovery phases are flexible, allowing for modifications to meet the needs of people with disabilities.
  • Emergency personnel are trained in meeting the needs of people with all types of disabilities and in understanding the complex impact of emergencies on their lives.
  • Emergency supplies include disability-related equipment and assistive devices and/or funds to purchase such equipment.
  • Communities collaborate with the disability community to develop a roster of people with disabilities likely to need assistance in an emergency.
  • Communities identify areas and neighborhoods where there are high concentrations of people with disabilities who may need assistance in an emergency.
  • The fact that people with disabilities have the right and responsibility to plan for and take charge of their own safety is taken into account in emergency action planning.
  • It is understood that planning and preparation efforts that are inclusive of people with disabilities are likely to benefit everyone. For example, building a personal support network and conducting a self-assessment of needs and skills, essential for people with disabilities in dealing with emergencies, are invaluable emergency preparedness strategies for all community members.

Roles for Funders Targeting and/or Including People with Disabilities


  • Consider disability as a component of diversity in the assessment of potential grantees for disaster-related projects.
  • Ensure that grantees involved in all aspects of disaster work have representation by diverse sections of the disability community and well conceived plans for addressing the needs of people with disabilities.
  • Support grantees with a history of collaboration with the disability community.
  • Support projects involving partnerships between mainstream emergency organizations and disability organizations. Make collaboration with local emergency authorities a condition of grants to nonprofit service providers.
  • Support projects that promote the development of an accessible emergency infrastructure, including:
    • Accessible emergency preparedness efforts,
    • Accessible disaster facilities and services, and
    • Accessible emergency communication and transportation systems.
  • Require/encourage grantees to put emergency materials in alternative formats.
  • Provide funds for emergency evacuation equipment geared to people with disabilities. Make sure the disability community has significant input into the choice of equipment.
  • Make funds available for the purchase of disability-related equipment and assistive devices by people with disabilities before, during and after a disaster.
  • Support the education and training of people with disabilities interested in becoming leaders/experts in the emergency field — for example, a train-the-trainers program on emergency preparedness that includes or is exclusively designed for people with disabilities.
  • Support training on emergency preparedness for people with disabilities in both inclusive and separate settings; provide funds for accommodation for such trainings, including transportation as needed.
  • Provide funds for developing disaster supply kits, including disability-related equipment, for segments of the disability community that could not otherwise afford them.
  • Support training of disaster personnel on disability issues so they can effectively meet the needs of people with disabilities. Ensure that people with disabilities are involved as trainers/advisors.
  • Support the development of a roster of people with disabilities likely to need assistance in an emergency.
  • Identify funding gaps in meeting the disaster-related needs of people with disabilities and develop a funding stream to meet the need.
  • Include in monitoring and evaluation procedures indicators on how well grantees have included and addressed the needs of people with disabilities.


  • Make sure that convenings that intend to include diverse segments of the community include people with disabilities.
  • Make sure that all convenings are held in accessible facilities, that all aspects of the program are accessible and that materials for distribution are available in alternative formats.
  • Convene meetings to make connections between the disability community emergency response groups and the media.
    • Facilitate meetings between the emergency community and the disability community. Encourage dialogues and the development of working relationships and ultimately partnerships. Make sure that the meetings provide a model of accessibility in terms of facility, communication, materials and so forth. Use such meetings to consider essential issues, such as ensuring the accessibility of disaster facilities and services, or the development of a community-based roster of people who will need assistance in a disaster.
    • Facilitate the development of a task force or advisory group made up of representatives of the disability and emergency communities to ensure that such collaboration continues.
    • Facilitate meetings among the media, the disability community and the emergency community to ensure that critical information is accessible and that disability issues are adequately addressed by the media.
    • Convene trainers of disaster personnel and representatives of the disability community to discuss effective, appropriate strategies to incorporate disability-related information in training.

Public Awareness

  • Disseminate the materials in this resource to the disability community, emergency preparedness community and the media.
  • Include information on people with disabilities in all your print and electronic resources on disaster/emergency issues.
  • Specifically mention people with disabilities in your press releases to heighten awareness and counter invisibility.
  • Work with the media to encourage them to promote issues of emergency preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation for people with disabilities.

Funders as Employers

  • Develop a disaster preparedness planning group that includes people with disabilities.
  • Have the planning group review your disaster/evaluation plan to make sure it includes of people with disabilities and complies with the ADA and other relevant legislation.
  • Hold a session on disaster preparedness for all employees.
    • Include a discussion of your disaster/evacuation plan that addresses such essentials as the location of emergency exits and fire extinguishers and plans for evacuating or otherwise meeting the needs of people with disabilities who may need assistance.
    • Encourage employees to develop a personal support network, a disaster self-assessment, a personal disaster plan for work and home, a communication strategy and a disaster supply kit. Make sure that the session fully integrates issues relevant to employees with disabilities.
  • Write up your emergency preparedness procedures to serve as a model for grantees.