Disability World
A bimonthly web-zine of international disability news and views • Issue no. 27 December 2005 - January 2006

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Selected Reports and Research on Needs of People with Disabilities in Disasters: international review

Review of the literature prepared by Barbara Duncan in April 2005, updated in November 2005

Following is a summary of recent resources regarding the inclusion of people with disabilities in planning for and responding to emergencies and disasters, both natural and manmade.

The list below is more selective than comprehensive. Most guidelines and research initiatives were developed in response to recent disasters, such as earthquakes in Japan and California, floods in Europe, the World Trade Center attack in New York, and the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia. New efforts are now being made in response to 2005 events such as the earthquake in Kashmir and Hurricane Katrina in the U.S. (See separate story on the November 10 U.S. Congressional briefing on Emergency Management and People with Disabilities.)

The list highlights published resources that include guidelines, groups active in disability and disaster research, and those conducting training.

Kashmir Earthquake 2005 – reports from India and Pakistan
Early reports about the situation of disabled survivors and estimates of those newly disabled from the Kashmir earthquake are starting to emerge from aid and disability groups based in both India and Pakistan.

In India, reports on the website of the Disability News and Information Service, www.dnis.org include the results of a fact-finding mission to the affected area by the National Disability Network and the National Center for the Promotion of Employment of Disabled Persons and a review of India's newly proposed Disaster Management Bill from the point of view of disabled persons.

In Pakistan, early reports from the Independent Living Center in Lahore were set to its sponsor, the Japanese Society for Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities and provided to the U.S. based Justice for All network: www.jfanow.org/jfanow/index.php.mode=A&id=2620;&sort=D

Reports from Ashoka fellows based in the area include estimates that around 500 thousand people have been injured, including schoolchildren who were attending classes in buildings that collapsed. Blogs appear on www.changemakers.net/journal/300510/tsuk.cfm

Tsunami 2004 – active international initiatives
A few international groups are tracking and coordinating disability related response: the World Bank Global Partnership in Disability & Development (www.worldbank.org/disability), the Asia and Pacific Center on Disability (www.apcdproject.org), and, most recently, a joint effort of the U.S. based Center for International Rehabilitation, the UN Special Rapporteur on Disability and Disabled People's International (www.cirnetwork.org).

Some charities and other NGOs have information about the impact of the tsunami on disabled persons and new initiatives created in response, e.g., Action for Disability and Development (UK), Christian Blind Mission (Germany, UK), Handicap International (France, Belgium), Action Aid (India) and Leonard Cheshire International (UK). For example, Cheshire states around 250,000 disabled persons have lost their homes, livelihoods and in some cases their lives from the tsunami, but does not source the estimate. (www.disabilitynow.org.uk/news_feb_006.html)

Tsunami - Guidelines

"Looking with a Disability Lens at the Disaster Caused by the Tsunami in South East Asia," a 7 page well thought out report by Barbara Oosters for CBM International (www.developmentgateway.com.au/jahia/Jahia/lang/en/pid2254). She covers 7 aspects: emergency; post-crisis; guidelines for including disabled persons in emergency plans; water, sanitation, hygiene; food, nutrition; shelter, settlements; health services.

Tsunami – Research Reports
"Disability in Conflict and Emergency Situations: Focus on Tsunami-affected Areas" is a new in-depth research report by Maria Kett, Sue Stubbs and Rebecca Yeo on behalf of the International Disability and Development Consortium, published in June 2005 by the UK KAR Disability Program: www.disabilityKar.net/docs/iddc.doc
The aim of the participatory action research was to promote inclusion of disability in emergency, conflict and refugee programs. The objectives were to assess: a) the extent of inclusion, b) the impact of networking and c) the role of resources in post-tsunami contexts. The focus was on Sri Lanka with a 10 day site visit by the core team, supported by contributions from India and Indonesia. In brief, findings are that inclusion overall was quite limited, with scant evidence that funding reached poor disabled people's organizations, concluding with numerous practical suggestions on how to improve future scenarios.

"The Indian Ocean Tsunami Disaster 2004: a Situational Assessment to Inform Response and Future Planning of the World Federation of Occupational Therapists" is a 56 page report of an analysis conducted in March 2005. Findings substantiated a need for a regional workshop for planning for the readiness of occupational therapists to participate effectively in future disasters. Details: www.wfot.org

Disasters - Guidelines

The WHO has prepared an interesting short set of guidelines, consisting of phase by phase suggestions for assisting people with disabilities in disaster relief, beginning with acute phase, then reconstruction, followed by CBR:

The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) updated its brief guidelines in 2004, "Assisting People with Disabilities in a Disaster"
The simple preface states, "People with disabilities who are self-sufficient under normal circumstances may have to rely on the help of others in a disaster."

"Disaster Mitigation for Persons with Disabilities: 7 key principles" is a concise 3 page summary of the Annenberg Washington report prepared in 1995 by Prof. Peter Blanck, focusing on accessible disaster facilities, accessible communications, reliable rescue communications, partnerships with disability community, education & training, the media and universal design: www.accessiblesociety.org/topics/independentliving/disasterprep.htm

One of the few papers written on disasters and disabled persons from the developing country viewpoint is an essay by Ali Baquer of India: www.pujabilok.com/india_disaster_rep/issue_significance/disability_issues.htm

"Lessons Learned from the World Trade Center Disaster" is a fact-filled 34 page report prepared by the Center for Independence of the Disabled of NY (CIDNY), alternating between small case studies and recommendations by the disability group that was based closest to Ground Zero in 2001: www.rtcil.org/lesson

A series of short Factsheets and recommendations for each disability group to attain disaster preparedness has been issued by June Issacson Kailes, a long established consultant in this area, specizlied in earthquake preparedness: www.jik.com/disaster
Kailes also has hotlinks to dozens of other publications on disability and disasters.

Disasters – Research
Following groups are in the midst of or have just published research studies:

An interim report on "The Needs of Disabled People in Flood Warning and Response" has just been published by the Northumbria Disaster Studies project, UK: http://online.northumbria.ac.uk/geography_research/dsp/pilot-study-report.doc
It consists of a literature review, research objectives, summary of investigation of warning systems and recommendations. Background materials are also available at: http://northumbria.ac.uk/geography_research/radix/disability.html

Disaster Preparedness/research

"Saving Lives: Including People with Disabilities in Emergency Planning" is a 100 page report issued by the U.S. National Council on Disability in April 2005 and is the result of the agency's 2003 commitment to evaluate the work of the federal government in the areas of homeland security, emergency preparation and disaster relief with respect to disabled persons. Report reviews infrastructure including access to technology, physical plants, programs and communication, as well as procurement and emergency programs and services. Available in alternative formats and online: www.ncd.org

"Disaster Preparedness for People with Mobility Impairments" and "Nobody is Left Behind" are the titles of preliminary reports from research conducted 2002-2005 by the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Independent Living based at the University of Kansas: www.rtcil.org/NLB_home.htm
Discusses results of survey of 30 randomly selected U.S. counties, cities and boroughs that have recently experienced natural or manmade disasters, in order to determine if their disaster plans and emergency response systems met the needs of people with disabilities, and if any best practice models could be identified. Contains information on tornados. Project directors Glenn White, Ph.D and Michael Fox comment that a common theme is that "there is virtually no empirical data on safe and efficient evacuation of people with disabilities in disaster planning."

In November 2004, the first results were released from the research being conducted by the U.S. National Organization on Disability on emergency preparedness: www.nod.org

  • Details from Tim Sullivan: sullivant@nod.org or NOD's Emergency
  • Preparedness Initiative, Hilary Styron: epi@nod.org
  • Nationwide survey of emergency managers results include: 69% do not incorporate needs of people with disabilities into plans; 22% say plans are underway.

NOD is producing Guides on including people with disabilities in emergency planning aimed at emergency manager, planners and responders. Topics of information: schools and pediatric populations, special needs registries, specialized equipment, training, funding, public awareness. Scope includes floods, fires, blackouts and manmade disasters.

A couple U.S. groups have developed training packages on how to incorporate needs of disabled persons into emergency planning:

A new National Center on Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities has been established as part of the Washington based Inclusion Research Institute: www.disabilitypreparedness.com Products include training kits for organizations, seminars, workshop and simulations. Other training modules have been developed by June Kailes for various groups: www.jlk.com

In addition to resources listed above, the following bibliography is of particular interest.

The U.S. based Disability Funders Network has developed a comprehensive annotated bibliography for funders about how to incorporate the needs of disabled persons into projects offering assistance in the case of disasters. Bibliography is entitled "Disability Considerations in Emergency Preparedness": www.disabilityfunders.org/ep-biblio.html

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