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We ask for your help disseminating the Roadmap through your social media channels, newsletters, and websites.

A new report from the World Institute of Disability, written by June Isaacson Kailes Disability Policy Consultant, Health Plan Member-Focused Emergency Practices Roadmap, investigates and documents promising member-centered emergency interventions. These critical procedures include applying lessons from COVID-19 and other co-occurring and previous emergencies. 

screen readers version: https://wid.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/WID_Report_Roadmap_accessible-1.pdf

The Roadmap’s purpose is to strengthen, create, promote, and embed emergency practices into member-centered health plans’ processes which help members successfully deal with, live through, and survive emergencies. Health plans are often overlooked as essential partners before, during, and after emergencies. Yet, more than any other service system, health plans, public and private, serve most people with disabilities in the United States.

Health plans play critical emergency roles in addressing and protecting their members’ resilience, health, safety, and independence. In emergencies, health plans can prevent or mitigate the cascading of adverse emergency effects of typically well-controlled chronic health conditions. Like a house of cards, the balance can easily be disrupted or collapse. Targeted prevention includes protection from degrading failure of:

The audience for this Roadmap is broad and addresses a range of stakeholder concerns, including: Stakeholder concerns covered include the roles and possible actions of:

Major focus of this Roadmap is:

American Public Health Association Annual Meeting 10/25/21 Slide Deck

Quality Services for People with Disabilities and Activity Limitations – Health Care Video Series, 2012, see Health below

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Disability Competencies
Emergencies / Disasters


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Disability Competencies

Accessible Meetings, Events, and Conferences July 2015, Digital updated version of June Isaacson Kailes and Darrel Jones' 1993 work, A Guide to Planning Accessible Meetings. The Mid-Atlantic ADA Center and TransCen Inc.  

Effectively Including People with Disabilities in Policy and Advisory Groups (Edition 2, 2012) 

Language Is More than a Trivial Concern!  (2010)

Time to Get Rid of "Special"? (1991)

Tips for Interacting with People with Disabilities (2011)

Physical Access Videos (2018)

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Emergencies / Disasters

Moving Beyond Etiquette to Actionable Practice Competencies (blog post 7/31/23)  NEW <>Focusing on etiquette, awareness, and sensitivity represents soft superficial niceties and politeness. It is nibbling around the edges when addressing disability implicit biases, discrimination, and lack of access and accommodations commonly experienced by people with disabilities. This focus falls short when translating the complexities of preferred practices and the fundamental requirements of compliance with civil rights laws into actionable tasks and competencies. We must move beyond etiquette to achieve meaningful and lasting civil rights compliance. 

Getting It Wrong: An Indictment with a Blueprint for Getting It Right, Disability Rights, Obligations and Responsibilities Before, During and After Disasters Edition 1 (May 2018) 

Southern California Wildfires After Action Report (2008) Text

Commnity Engagement

Planning Checklist for Rapid Emergency Response for Organizations Serving People with Disabilities Edition 1.4 (2018)  Rapid emergency response is in direct alignment with the core services and values of disability focused organizations that engage in systems advocacy that protects peoples’ civil rights and right to self-determination.  This guidance and checklist is for organizations that support the health, safety, and independence of people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs. Use it to evaluate critical elements of emergency response and recovery, identify areas needing attention, set priorities and continue to assess progress. Four elements include:

Emergency Services

Checklist for Integrating People with Disabilities and Others with Access and Functional Needs into Emergency Planning, Response & Recovery (2020 - updated, 2014)

Defining Functional Needs - Updating CMIST (2017) -  resulting from the evolving of terms as well as the clarity, precision, and specificity of our thinking and practice. CMIST is a memory tool to help people remember and plan for the five functional needs individuals may have in an emergency or disaster: communication; maintaining health; independence; support, safety and self-determination; and transportation. 

Emergency plans based on optimizing function rather than “specialness” increases the chance of successful accommodation of predictable needs. For example, the fact people have survived a stroke, tells us nothing about their functional needs for maintaining their health, safety and independence, which can range from no needs to many needs. 

Emergency Registries are pointed to as an easy and logical answer for addressing what are perceived as “special needs” for a small segment of the population.  In reality, registry issues are complex, and the needs of people when functionally defined, are not special, and are not limited to just a small group of people. 

These registry resource pages provide a deeper exploration of registries and include:

Functional Needs Focused Care and Shelter Checklist (2009)

Guidance for Integrating People with Disabilities in Emergency Drills and Exercises, Edition 2, 2020 NEW easier to use format with updated content [see Edition 2015 below] including:

Guidance for Integrating People with Disabilities in Emergency Drills, Table Tops and Exercises Edition 1, (2015) - Guidance prepared for North Carolina Emergency Management.  It uses the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) Master Task List format commonly used in the field to provide a set of guiding principles for exercise programs, as well as a common approach to exercise program management, design and development, conduct, evaluation, and improvement planning.  The second column is what is new and focuses on steps to recruit, accommodate, include, and get feedback from people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs in exercises. Also includes suggestions for injects that can be tailored to specific exercise.

Inclusive Event Procedures for Emergencies, Edition I, October 2017 - Procedures for emergencies should be incorporated into event planning. Emergency procedures should anticipate the needs of everyone. Planning should recognize that there will be attendees with disabilities who may need evacuation or other assistance in an emergency. These attendees have a variety of disabilities (mobility, breathing, allergies, hearing, seeing, reading, understanding or chronic conditions) and may have difficulty or be unable to: use stairwells, hear alarms, see or read exit signs and understand instructions. Contents include: applying emergency planning strategies, safety considerations for site selection, projecting numbers of attendees with disabilities, a checklist for inclusive emergency safety briefings for attendees, emergency planning with event facilities staff and more resources. Readers should use this guidance in conjunction with  information found in “Accessible Meetings, Events, and Conferences Guide.” http://www.adahospitality.org/accessible-meetings-events-conferences-guide/book

Moving Beyond "Special Needs" A function-based framework for emergency management and planning, (2007)

Serving and Protecting All by Applying Lessons Learned - Including People with Disabilities and Seniors in Disaster Services (2006) 

Standard, Accessible, and Medical Cots (2009)

The National Shelter System and Physical Accessibility - Time to Look Under the Hood (2017) focuses on physical accessibility, one of the many mass care criteria used by the American Red Cross’s National Shelter System (NSS). This focus on facility access is motivated by being repeatedly told, (in my role as a trainer, consultant and policy analyst,) by emergency management professionals that they do not need to survey their mass care sites for physical accessibility, because they can depend on the information in the NSS. 

The information in this article is derived from informal discussions with American Red Cross staff and volunteers. These discussions resulted in inconsistent and sometimes contradictory information regarding NSS. What follows is a list of questions and concerns regarding NSS’s information accuracy, surveyor competencies, and uniformity in applying standardized policies and procedures across divisions and regions. For example, different survey versions of physical access questions appear to be used in NSS and in different regions.


Training: Maximizing Your ROI! (2017) In the emergency management world, applying lessons can make the difference between life and death for people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs. It’s about impact and outcomes. The goal is not just lessons observed, documented, or heard about, but lessons repeatedly applied, so we can eventually claim them as lessons learned.

Recent disaster response has highlighted and reinforced that our current training models need modernizing. Time and budgets for training are minuscule. We must prevent the initial investment in developing training from subsequently getting stuck in outdated learning and evaluation models. Content presents 6 “How’s” for modernizing training:

1. Refresh content and materials frequently

2. Train teams

3. Elevate importance of exercises

4. Use spaced reinforced interval learning

5. Put equal emphasis on just-in-time training

6. Use evaluation methods that measure delivery effectiveness, performance, impact and outcomes

Individual Preparedness

Be Ready to Go: Evacuation Transportation Planning Tips for People with Access and Functional Needs (2010) 

Be Ready To Go: Disability-Specific Supplies For Emergency Kits (2010)

Be Real, Specific, and Current: Emergency Preparedness Information for People with Disabilities and Others with Access and Functional Needs, Edition 1.0, (2016) General emergency preparedness information is important for everyone,but does not always equally applicable for people with disabilities. These materials can be more inclusive when they contain information that focuses on specific functional needs.  

Offers guidance, examples, and resources on promoting or producing these materials and includes checking that the content:

Disability Specific Supplies Emergency Kits 2023, Edition 3.0, UPDATED Checklist suggests emergency kit contents including no cost supplies, that you can tailor to your needs and abilities. Kits to consider for different places and situations: keep it with you, grab and go, home, bedside and car. Specific suggestions are made for hearing, speech and communication and vision issues as well as for wheelchair and scooter users, service animal owners and people with allergies, chemical sensitivities and breathing conditions. WORD

Emergency Evacuation Preparedness: Taking Responsibility For Your Safety, A Guide For People with Disabilities and Other Activity Limitation (2002) develop plans that integrate people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs.
Emergency Health Information: Savvy Health Care Consumer Series (2011) guides you through developing your emergency health information. You should keep copies of this information in your wallet (behind your driver’s license or official identification card) and emergency kits. It shares with rescuers important information if they find you unconscious, or unable to provide information. It contains information about your medications, equipment, allergies, communication needs, preferred treatment, medical providers, and important contacts.

Emergency Power Planning for People Who Use Electricity and Battery Dependent Assistive Technology and Devices (2019)

Emergency power planning checklist for people who use electricity and battery dependent technology and devices. Electricity and battery-dependent devices such as:

Some of this equipment is essential to your level of independence while other equipment is vital to keeping you
alive! This checklist can be used to make power-backup plans.
This document also contains:
Emergency Preparedness for Personal Assistant Services (PAS) Users, Edition 2.0, (2016) contains tips for individuals who use personal assistants, attendants or caregivers. Planning elements include a checklist, support teams, communication, evacuating and sheltering, supplies, and more ‘how to” details. WORD

Emergency Preparedness: Taking Responsibility For Your Safety - Tips for People with Activity Limitations and Disabilities (2006) 

Emergency Travel Safety Tips for Overnight Stays, Edition 1 – October 2017 - Tips for everyone. [*] Items are specifically for people with disabilities who because of a variety of disabilities (mobility, breathing, allergies, hearing, seeing, walking, understanding or chronic conditions) may have difficulty or be unable to: use stairwells, hear alarms, see or read exit signs and understand instructions. Safety tips include: check-in, personal support, in your guest room, other safety tips and more resources.

Map Your Neighborhood | Washington State Military Department, Citizens Serving Citizens with Pride & Tradition Neighborhoods prepared for emergencies and disaster situations save lives and reduce the severity of injuries, trauma, and property damage. The Map Your Neighborhood program guides you and your neighbors through steps to help enhance your preparedness. These steps will help you quickly and safely minimize damage and protect lives. It improves disaster readiness at the neighborhood level, 15-20 homes, or a defined area you can canvas in 1 hour.  It teaches neighbors to rely on each other during the hours or days before fire, medical, police, or utility responders arrive.

Out-of-town emergency contacts listed in priority order (first person reached calls others on this list) (2015)

Tips for Emergency Use of Mobile Devices Edition 2, (2015) - Cell phones and other mobile devices like tablets are a big part of our lives. You rarely leave home without them and we often store important information on them. In emergencies and disasters they can be a communication life line. Provides details regarding preparing your device to quickly get and give emergency information which includes a checklist, emergency contacts and documents, alerts, texting, apps, bookmarks of important mobile sites, “no service” backup plans, skill drills and other resources. 

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 5 “G’s” Getting Access to Health Care for People with Physical Disabilities (2008)

Be an Active Health Care Consume, Edition 2 (2019) Health care providers deserve respect, not worship! The old “doctor always knows best” attitude is outdated. You must speak up or you may not get important care. Being passive can be dangerous to your health. Contents include:

Determine Your Priorities

Health Care Self Advocacy Skills Survey

Being Active

Trusting Your Life Experience and Your Common Sense

Quiz: Are You an Active or Passive Health Care


Health Care Visit Strategy Quiz

Accessibility Planning

Plan Ahead

Accessibility Planning Checklist

Effectively Communicating with Health Care Providers

The DES Script: A Tool for Improving Communication

Types of Helpful and Not Helpful Communication

Chief Complaint / Reason for Visit

Understanding and Remembering Information from Visits with Health Care Providers

Take A Support Person with You

Effectively Working with Your Support Person

Take Notes

Record Your Appointments

Ask for Pictures

Get Your Test Results

Test Result Communication Form

Competency Planning Checklists for Providing Health Care for People with Disabilities (2016)  - The purpose of these gap analysis checklists is to assist health care professionals in evaluating their attitudes toward participants with disabilities, their current capacity to provide physical, communication, medical equipment, services and program access, as well as care coordination for participants with disabilities. Health care providers can use these checklists as an actionable practice competency assessment. These tools should assist providers in complying with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) expectations for services for Medicaid and Medicare populations with disabilities.  Health Plan professionals can use these checklists to check if their policies and procedures, as well as the training they offer is inclusive of these access elements. These questions are not meant to be graded, but rather to be used as a planning tools to help identify opportunities for improvements, set priorities, and to track improvements over time.

Health Care Rights for People with Disabilities (2015)

Health plans must provide access to health care services including preventive care and necessary services. California’s Department of Managed Health Care provides this content to help Californians with disabilities understand their rights and get the care they need.

Topics include:

Physical Access to Care

Communication Assistance - Hearing

Communication Assistance - Hearing-Deaf

Communication Assistance - Vision

Keeping Your Doctor - Continuity of Care

Getting Health Care Benefits and Services

Making Preventive Health Care Work for You – A Resource Guide for People with Physical Disabilities, (2006) screen reader version

Information and tools regarding:

Quality Services for People with Disabilities and Activity Limitations – Health Care Video Series, 2012

Who are People with Disabilities and activity limitations and explores how disability increases with age. 14 minutes

Hassle factors experienced by people with disabilities and activity limitations when getting health care.

How health care worker’s Attitudes and Beliefs toward people with disabilities and activity limitations can affect he quality of health care. 37 minutes

Tips for Planning a Rapid Emergency COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Response  

Using a Fitness Center Does Not Have to be an Exercise in Frustration: Tips for People with Mobility and Visual Disabilities (2008)

Health Plans

Health Plans – Strengthening Emergency Roles and Partnerships  2,20,20 - Policy Paper covers:  

  1. Care Planning and Care Coordination
  2. Life-safety Checks
  3. Emergency Performance Clauses for Contracted Providers and Suppliers
  4. Member Emergency Communications
  5. Community Partnerships
  6. Guidance

Health Care Stories Videos (2011) – These free, downloadable short videos illustrate, as no policy paper can, the obstacles and barriers that stand in the way of getting health care for many people with disabilities. They focus on common and widespread barriers to care. The videos feature stories about inaccessible examination tables and weight scales and healthcare provider misperceptions and stereotypes. They also recommend actions for improving care. These downloadable videos not only present an all-important human perspective. They also affirm the barriers to care that a decade of research has revealed.

Access to Medical Care for Individuals with Mobility Disabilities (May 2010), (last accessed 9.14.10) U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section. Provides guidance for medical care professionals on the ADA’s requirement to provide accessible health care to individuals with mobility disabilities and includes an overview of general ADA requirements, commonly asked questions, and illustrated examples of accessible facilities, examination rooms, and medical equipment.


Exam Room Selection for Accessible Examination Tables & Chairs (2010) Covers:

Health Care (clinic/outpatient) Facilities Access (2008), (last accessed 9.14.10), Covers:
Basics of physical access for clinicians and medical office staff, provides links and listing including:

Importance of Accessible Examination Tables & Wheelchair Scales (2010)  Covers:

Improving Accessibility with Limited Resources (2008), (last accessed 9.14.10), Covers:

People with Disabilities and Chronic Conditions – Health Care Competency Training and Materials for health care practitioners: includes materials and videos regarding: 

Quality Services for People with Disabilities and Activity Limitations (2011)

Tools For Decreasing Health Care Barriers (2009)

Transfer Assistance For People with Mobility and Disability Limitations On And Off an Exam Table, (2017) 4.2 minutes

Questions to Ask for Identifying Communication and Accommodation Needs (2016) - Many people need access related to communication, mobility and service. Many of these people do not identify as having a disability. Therefore, it is important to ask people about these needs. Attention to the details is critical when identifying and meeting communication and accommodation needs. Asking a key question of all people can help to accomplish this.

Using Accessible Scales to Weigh People with Mobility and Disability Limitations, (2017) 4 minutes

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Created 11/8/97  |  Updated  08.02.23