ANSI Report Addresses Emergency Preparedness for Disabilities, Special Needs

For the millions of Americans with special needs, emergencies and natural disasters present a unique challenge, according to the American National Standards Institute Homeland Security Standards Panel (ANSI-HSSP). Catastrophic events such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the 9/11 attacks revealed the crucial need for standards and other means of guidance to enhance emergency preparedness for persons with special needs.

In an effort to advance standardization efforts in this area, ANSI-HSSP has released a final workshop report outlining recommendations for the timely development of standards to support more effective emergency preparedness for all. The report consolidates the panel's findings from a series of 2010 workshops that examined various aspects of the standards and codes needed for reducing barriers to accessibility in emergencies.

Since the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) twenty years ago, the definition of "disability" has shifted from an underlying physical or mental condition to a complex interaction between a person and his or her environment.

Through the work of ANSI-HSSP and other initiatives, barriers that prevent full social participation are increasingly being identified, addressed, and removed to support independence and promote involvement in all aspects of society.

The aim of the report, ANSI-HSSP said, is to educate key stakeholders on the challenges and standardization gaps relating to emergency preparedness, and to serve as a call to standards developers to take necessary action on identified gaps.

To download the report, click here.

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