Disability Rights

Individuals with disabilities face greater issues in a disaster. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides many services.

FEMA services for individuals with disabilities include:

  • Transportation services for people who use need help getting around;
  • Emergency shelters;
  • Practical sleeping arrangements;
  • Places to apply in person;
  • Online/Mobile registration;
  • Braille, large print, and audio versions of important documents;
  • Sign Language, interpreters, communication aids, and captioned videos;
  • Service animal friendly shelters; and
  • Medical care.

These services are managed by the Office of Disability Integration and Coordination. It helps governments and groups help people.

As an individual with a disability, you have a right to:

  • Understandable Information. You should be able to understand and access all discussions, notices, and documents.
  • Equal Opportunity. You should be able to do all things with the same ease as others. Programs should be adapted to your needs.
  • Equal Access. You should be able to enter and use all facilities.
  • Integrated Services. You should be in touch with your support systems and caregivers if you are displaced.
  • No Charge. You should not pay for any changes to meet your needs.

Protecting your rights:

Disaster relief providers are not allowed to discriminate against you. If you experience unfair treatment, or cannot access relief services because of your disability, you can:

  • Call the FEMA helpline at (800) 621-3362.
  • File a complaint with FEMA’s office of Equal Rights at this website.
  • File a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights at this website.
  • Contact your local Disability Protection and Advocacy System at this website.

Helpful Tips

  • Be ready to explain your disability to workers. You should be able to go to a shelter with anyone or anything you need to help you.
  • Tell a trusted person where your emergency supplies are.
  • Let state or local governments know that you are disabled ahead of time. This can make sure you get help quickly in an emergency.
  • If your disability affects your communication, make sure your emergency information lets workers know the best way to communicate with you.
  • Keep a week’s supply of medicines and supplies on hand.
  • Prepare a kit of emergency things. For example, medication, food, water, batteries, chargers, and supplies for your service animals.
  • Tell members of your support network how and where you are.

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