Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Welcome to a new edition of the newsletter and on-line blog by Inclusion Research Institute and the Inclusive Preparedness Center. We are a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC that works to implement programs and research that support full inclusion for people with access and functional needs in all aspects of life. This newsletter will highlight for you some of the work we do and some of the more interesting findings and innovative programs as we collaborate with governmental agencies and private organizations from across the United States and Canada.
Let us know what you think! Feel free to comment, explore our web pages, or contact us for more information.
Carl T. Cameron, CEO and President
Help Americans with Disabilities Vote Act
IRI was recently awarded a grant through the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Developmental Disabilities to assist in the development of a voting guide and planner that people with disabilities from across the nation can use to help them better participate in the voting process. The Help American Vote Act of 2002 is the most sweeping change in federal election law since the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and includes civil rights legislation to ensure that voters are treated equally across the United States. IRI’s Practice Support for Full Participation in the Electoral Process has the goal of providing practical training and support materials to Protection & Advocacy Agencies to more fully engage people with disabilities in the voting process nationwide.
IRI is currently working on a project to support children with access and functional needs and their families who utilize public shelters during an emergency. IRI has created a number of important tools, including a guide for shelter workers, a family guide to shelters that details the responsibilities of and expectations for families accessing shelters, and a family disaster planner to help families better plan for disaster for their children.
Comprehensive Travel Training for Persons with Disabilities: A Public-Private Partnership and Initiative
In 2009, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) along with partners from Inclusion Research Institute and Centers for Independent Living (CILs)—Endependence Center of Northern Virginia, DC Center for Independent Living and Independence Now in Maryland—were awarded a contract under the Job Access Reverse Commute (JARC) and New Freedom programs. The two-year pilot project has provided comprehensive, individualized travel training for people with significant disabilities throughout the DC metropolitan region using an innovative and unique public-private partnership between WMATA and local CILs organizations. In the first 1½ years of the project, the partnership has trained 276 persons with significant disabilities to use public transportation in the greater DC metropolitan region. Preliminary findings suggest that in the three months following travel training as many as 72 percent of program completers indicate they now use bus or rail regularly.
Evacuation Study for People with Disabilities
Researchers at IRI, University of Colorado-Denver, West Virginia University and Louisiana State University have completed a three year, nationwide study of evacuation practices for people with disabilities. Researchers conducted survey research with approximately 1200 persons with disabilities and members of their household and with nearly 500 organizational representatives from disability provider organizations, faith-based groups, emergency management and responders in areas recently impacted by large-scale evacuation. In addition, IRI conducted interviews on promising practices for supporting evacuation for people with disabilities with 35 experts from around the country who have been able to test best practices in real world disaster conditions. Most recently, the team conducted tabletop exercises with disability providers and emergency management representatives in Washington, DC; West Virginia; Shreveport and New Orleans, Louisiana; and in Riverside, San Diego and Oakland, California. For more on the results of this study, see www.evacuationstudy.org.
Delaware Summit on Assistive Technology Use and Re-Use in Disaster
IRI and Pass It On Center collaborated to host an Assistive Technology Use and Re-Use summit on September 26-27, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Summit participants included disability providers, assistive technology organizations, and state and local emergency management representatives from FEMA Region III mid-Altlantic states, including Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. At the summit, each state met in teams and were charged with developing a sustainable network for addressing the AT use and re-use needs and to determine action steps to meet these needs in future disasters. The summit was funded by the University of Delaware, Center for Disability Studies.
In June 2011, IRI/IPC completed a project funded by Serve DC to train more than 800 people with functional and access needs in DC on emergency preparedness. The project included approximately 380 boy scouts who worked closely with IRI staff on emergency preparedness, earning their emergency preparedness merit badges for their participation.
Addressing Emergency Preparedness Needs for People with Disabilities on University Campuses
In 2011, IRI/IPC was awarded separate contracts to study emergency preparedness and fire safety for campus members with disabilities on two university campuses, Georgetown University (GU) and Seton Hall University (SHU). At both campuses, researchers conducted a review of practices in fire safety and emergency preparedness for people with disabilities at other institutions of higher education in comparison with policies and practices for persons with disabilities on GU and SHU campuses. In addition, interviews and site visits were conducted with key campus stakeholders to determine the current protocols and policies related to fire safety and emergency preparedness for campus members with disabilities. The final reports detail study findings and include short-and long-term recommendations for improving campus protocols and policies for emergency preparedness and fire safety specific to persons with disabilities based on information gained at other universities and from information gained via site visits and interviews.
Get Involved DC! A Program to Support Community Service and Recreation for People with Disabilities in the District of Columbia
IRI was recently awarded a one-year grant by the DC Developmental Disabilities Council to promote independence for 40 District residents with disabilities by connecting individuals to community service and recreation opportunities across the District. Get Involved DC! participants will learn how to find and plan for events, how to use public transportation to get to events, how to connect with others to share the experience and how to actively participate in events of their choosing. This will include, for example, learning how to sign up and participate in service days on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, conduct outreach on emergency preparedness in their communities, and attend free concerts, sporting events, and festivals in and around DC. For more information, see www.getinvolveddc.info.
Smoke and Fire Safety: An Action Planner
IRI developed Smoke & Fire Safety Action Planner guides designed to help fire agencies and community-based organizations work one-on-one with families to support smoke and fire safety at home. Funding was provided for by the Department of Homeland Security Grant Program Directorate for Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. Last year, approximately 100,000 planners were distributed and action planning activities occurred in 37 states. This year, IRI is printing 250,000 planners with the goal to distribute planners and to conduct action planning with families in all 50 states. For more information or to receive action planning materials and support for your community, see www.firesafetyplanner.org.
Hurricane Access Brings Disability Providers and Emergency Management Together
The Inclusive Preparedness Center is pleased to announce a new collaborative partnership with the Disaster Resistant Communities Group (www.drc-group.com) in the presentation of internet based exercise applications focused on providing support before, during and after a disaster for individuals with access and functional needs. These exercises are specifically designed to focus on local jurisdictional planning among service providers, emergency managers and agencies which provide supports for individuals with functional and access needs. The Guidance on Planning for Integration of Functional Needs Support Services in General Population Shelters (FEMA, 2010) provides a basis for the development of these exercises based which provide a specific scenario in a manner that allows full participation by organizations with limited experience with disaster exercises.
Organizations in various locations can participate in exercises that focus on their jurisdiction, and those jurisdictions that logically would need to cooperate during a disaster – such as Emergency Management districts and Urban Area Security Initiative regions. Statewide and region-wide exercises are also available. Organizations can participate from their own offices, conference rooms or jurisdictional EOCs.