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indentMANAGING SHELTERS

Recommendations on making emergency shelters more accessible:

  • Some cots should be available that are high enough for mobility impaired people to use comfortably and safely.

  • Be prepared to provide extra food and water to disabled people with service guide animals.

  • In neighborhoods where familiar landmarks are altered or missing due to an earthquake, some visually impaired people may need personal assistance to travel about.

  • Some people are non-vocal but still capable of thinking and making their needs known. Shelter staff need to be aware, patient and creative.

  • Avoid using outdoor areas that are muddy, sandy, or covered by thick grass.

  • Shelter personnel should know how to use the California Relay Service to make and receive phone calls with hearing and speech impaired individuals.

  • Permit people with mobility impairments the option of going to the head of long lines.

  • Train staff to realize that some people have the physical ability to ride buses, but do not have the cognitive ability to learn new routes established because of a disaster.

  • Train staff to know how to contact disability agencies, such as sign interpreter agencies and agencies that help families with at-risk infants with disabilities.

  • Train staff to realize that some service animals may temporarily not be able to provide their owners with service as fully effective as before the disaster.

  • Train staff about the difference between the medical model and the independence model of disability. Train staff not to see a disabled person as only a person needing medical services.

  • Shelters should have telephone books for the local area.

  • Shelters should have information about transportation resources and disability service agencies.

  • Disabled people and out-of-area emergency volunteers should not have to vie for hotel accommodations.

  • Portable telephones should be ordered that have volume controls.

  • Public phone stations need power sockets nearby to supply power to portable TDDs used by deaf, hearing impaired, and speech impaired people.

  • Train staff to know that even normal amounts of background noise may prevent a person with a hearing impairment from understanding spoken directions and instructions.

  • Train staff to know that some disabilities may give a person the appearance of intoxication.

  • Train staff to know that some disabilities in certain circumstances leads to disruptive behaviors; and to how to respond appropriately when such behaviors occur.

  • In the early days after a disaster, locations of shelters need to be well publicized so that family and friends can search more effectively for disabled people and vice versa.

  • Stock writing tablets and pencils for hearing impaired people to use.

  • At the accessible entrance to a shelter, have signage providing information about features of the shelter that are less than fully accessible.

  • Insure that the shelter's address is clearly visible from the nearby street.

  • The approach to outdoor toilets is free of stones, rubble, steps, tree roots, mud, and loose sand.

  • Stock simple tools and patch kits for repairing flat tires on wheelchairs.

  • Establish contact with local agencies that supply personal care attendants for people with disabilities.

  • Train staff to realize the large number of hard of hearing people and their needs.

  • All shelters need information boards with notices about announcements that disabled people may not hear or where not present when the announcements were made.



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