New FEMA Guidance for Sheltering Disabled in Emergencies

The Functional Needs Support Services Guidance tells state governments how their emergency sheltering services should comply with laws that prevent discrimination against people with disabilities.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency released new guidelines Wednesday explaining to state officials and non-profit organizations how to ensure their emergency sheltering services comply with laws that prevent discrimination against people with disabilities.

These include the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Stafford Act, the Fair Housing Act, the Rehabilitation Act, the Architectural Barriers Act, and the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act.

"At FEMA, we don't plan for easy, we plan for real -- and that means doing a better job of meeting the needs of people with disabilities when a disaster strikes," said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. "We have to start by supporting and encouraging our entire emergency management team, including our state and local partners, to integrate the needs of people with disabilities into all of their planning. These guidelines are an important step forward in these efforts and will help ensure that shelters better meet the needs of evacuees with disabilities, from providing sleeping arrangements to meeting hygiene and dietary needs, to accommodating for service animals."

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one of every five Americans has some type of disability. The FNSS guidance encourages emergency managers to integrate the needs of people with disabilities and all population in their communities into every aspect of their planning for disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.

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