People with Disabilities

Preparing Disabled Family Members

People with disabilities need special consideration when preparing for a disaster. Below are numerous resources that help individuals and families with special needs plan and prepare for any emergency. Take the time to prepare ahead of time before a disaster strikes. It could save their life.

Nevada Disability Statistics

There are an estimated 269,000 people in the state of Nevada over the age of five who have a form of disability. Approximately 50,000 people, or 2.3% of the state's population, experience difficulties with performing activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing, or getting around inside of their homes. 

There are around 138,000 people in the state who have a form of work disability, and around 58,000 people with disabilities in Nevada who are employed. Around 8,000 people with disabilities in the state are unemployed, while 77,000 are currently not in the workforce. Source - Disabled World

Additional statistical information on people with disabilities in Nevada. 
Center for Disease Control and Prevention - State Profile Data for Nevada 
Disability Status Report for Nevada - Cornell University

Disaster Mitigation for Persons with Disabilities

1. Accessible Disaster Facilities and Services: 
Communications technology is vital for people with disabilities during a disaster to help assess damage, collect information, and deploy supplies. Access to appropriate facilities - housing, beds, toilets, and other necessities -- must be monitored and made available to individuals with disabilities before, during, and after a disaster. This access also must be ensured for those who incur a disability as a result of a disaster. Appropriate planning and management of information related to architectural accessibility improves the provision of disaster services for persons with disabilities.

2. Accessible Communications and Assistance:

As communications technology and policy become more integral to disaster relief and mitigation, providing accessibility to the technology for people with disabilities becomes more essential. For example, people with hearing impairments require interpreters, TDD communications, and signaling devices. In addition, written materials must be produced on cassette tape, on CD-ROM, or in large print for people with visual impairments. People with cognitive impairments, such as those with developmental disabilities, Alzheimer's disease, or brain injury, require assistance to cope with new surroundings and to minimize confusion factors. It is crucial that people with disabilities help develop accessible communications and reliable assistance technologies.

3. Accessible and Reliable Rescue Communications: 
Accessible and reliable communications technology is critical to ensuring fast, effective, and competent field treatment of people with disabilities. Current satellite and cellular technology as well as personal communication networks permit communication in areas with a damaged or destroyed communication infrastructure. Communications technologies can assist field personnel in rescue coordination and tracking and can be combined with databases that house information on optimal treatment for particular disabilities or that track the allocation of post disaster resources.

4. Partnerships with the Disability Community:

Disability organizations must join with relief and rescue organizations and the media to educate and inform their constituents of disaster contingency and self-help plans. A nationwide awareness effort should be devised and implemented to inform people with disabilities about necessary precautions for imminent disaster. In the event of a sudden natural disaster, such a program would minimize injury and facilitate rescue efforts. In addition, more young people with disabilities should be encouraged to study technology, medicine, science, and engineering as a way of gaining power over future technological advances in disaster relief and mitigation.

5. Disaster Preparation, Education, and Training: 
Communications technologies are crucial for educating the public about disaster preparedness and warning the people most likely to be affected. Relief and rescue operations must have the appropriate medical equipment, supplies, and training to address the immediate needs of people with disabilities. Affected individuals may require bladder bags, insulin pumps, walkers, or wheelchairs. Relief personnel must be equipped and trained in the use of such equipment. In addition, relief personnel should provide training, particularly for personnel and volunteers in the field, on how to support the independence and dignity of persons with disabilities in the aftermath of a disaster.

6. Partnerships with the Media:

Many natural disasters can be predicted in advance. Disaster preparedness for people with disabilities is critical in minimizing the impact of a disaster. The media -- in partnership with disability and governmental organizations -- should incorporate advisories into emergency broadcasts in formats accessible to people with disabilities. Such advisories alert the public, provide a mechanism for informing rescue personnel of individual medical conditions and impairments, and identify accessible emergency shelters. The creation and repetition of accessible media messages is critical for empowering people with disabilities to protect themselves from disasters.

7. Universal Design and Implementation Strategies:

Designing universal access into disaster relief plans, far from being a costly proposition, can pay off handsomely. As accessible communications tools become more widely available, their price will decrease. In addition, a universal design approach to meeting the needs of people with disabilities before and after a disaster will benefit many people without disabilities, such as the very young or the aged. A look at existing agreements among relief organizations and local, state, federal, and international governments will offer guidance in developing effective strategies for universal design and implementation plans. The federal government's role has yet to be defined, but it could encourage or even mandate universal design and set standards. For example, the federal government could provide guidelines for evacuation plans or pre-disaster warning periods.

Communication Methods for the Blind & Deaf Population

Alphabet Gloves 
A glove is worn with letters and numbers printed on it. A sighted person spells words by touching the appropriate letter on the glove. The deaf-blind person can tell which letters are meant by knowing which part of the hand was touched. The deaf-blind person must remember where each letter appears on the glove in order to interpret the touches correctly. This is a cumbersome communication method, but it works well when no other system is available.

Manual Alphabet  
The manual alphabet is a series of hand motions which depicts letters. In some instances, the fingers are positioned to resemble print letters. Other letters are formed by arbitrary hand positions which bear no resemblance to print symbols. The basics of the alphabet can be learned in a few hours. It takes a good deal of practice to develop speed. The deaf-blind person reads by placing his or her hand over the hand of the person making the letters. It's possible to communicate at a speed similar to that used in shorthand dictation. An interpreter must summarize speeches, lectures, and ordinary conversation. The manual alphabet can be one of the quickest and most versatile communication methods for a deaf-blind person.

It is possible to communicate with deaf-blind people by tracing the shapes of block letters on the palm of their hand with an index finger. Capital letters should be printed and cursive writing should be avoided.

Sign Language
Some deaf-blind people were deaf from birth and became blind as teenagers or adults. They prefer the sign language used by deaf people. Instead of watching the hands and arms of friends, they touch the hands of the person making the signs to learn what is being said. It is usually necessary to restrict the movements involved in making signs so that a deaf-blind person can follow along conveniently. This system can lead to confusion. It requires the speaker to have extensive training in sign language. However, it is possible to interpret as quickly as English is spoken using this method.

Tadoma is lip reading by touch. It is not very popular because it is hard to do and not very accurate.

This device is portable and weighs less than four pounds. It consists of a small typewriter keyboard which the interpreter uses to pass on information. The deaf-blind person sits opposite the typist and places a finger on a small Braille "screen." Each letter that is typed appears briefly under the finger of the deaf-blind person. The letter can be felt as long as the typist holds down the key. Only one letter can be felt at a time. Fifty words per minute is probably the maximum speed of the device. The chief advantage of the Tellatouch is that it allows people who have no specialized training to communicate quickly with the deaf-blind.