Hurricane Harvey has been devastating for many communities in Texas and Louisiana, impacting people of all ages and abilities. As emergency response rescue efforts continue and recovery efforts begin, understanding and accommodating the unique circumstances faced by older adults and people with disabilities will be critical.
And HHS' Office of Civil Rights has identified practices and resources for emergency responders and officials to help ensue individuals have equal access to emergency services that include:
Employing qualified interpreter services to assist individuals with limited English proficiency and individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing during response and recovery activities
- Making emergency messaging available in languages prevalent in the area and in multiple formats, such as audio, large print, and captioning and ensuring that websites providing disaster-related information are accessible
- Making use of multiple outlets and resources for messaging to reach individuals with disabilities, individuals with limited English proficiency, and members of diverse faith communities.
- Considering the needs of individuals with mobility impairments and individuals with assistive devices or durable medical equipment in providing transportation for evacuation
- Identifying and publicizing accessible sheltering facilities that include accessible features, such as bathing, toileting, and eating facilities and bedding
- Avoiding separating people from their sources of support, such as service animals, durable medical equipment, caregivers, medication and supplies
- Stocking shelters with items that will help people to maintain independence such as hearing aid batteries, canes, and walkers