Wireless RERC Input to FEMA’s Comprehensive Preparedness Guide 101

January 2020 - Salimah LaForce, Wireless RERC and Danny Housley, Center for Inclusive Designs and Innovation, provided input to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s 2020 Revision of Comprehensive Preparedness Guide 101: Developing and Maintaining Emergency Operations Plans. The last time the Guide was updated was in 2010, predating the commercial availability of Wireless Emergency Alerts.  As such, recommendations were made to update the communications sections to make reference to mobile emergency alerting and to include guidance on elements of accessible emergency messaging. We also recommend that they expand their hazard and risk assessment section to highlight that some people in the jurisdiction may be particularly at risk during and in the wake of disaster. These include people who rely on electrical power to operate their life-sustaining durable medical equipment at home. Also, people who rely on assistive technologies to communicate and/or navigate their environments. Also, beyond the identification of populations who have increased risk of harm during emergency events, we recommended advising jurisdictions to assess their capabilities and resources to respond to those that have been identified as needing "additional assistance." For example, through registries of people with disabilities never account for all people with disabilities that live in the jurisdiction, those that have registered have the expectation that "help is on the way." Help is not always on the way due to a variety of reasons not always under the emergency response personnel's control. What can be controlled, however, is incorporating a response plan specifically for the people on the registries and others identified as needing "additional assistance...in advance of, during, and following an emergency." Other issues addressed include:

  • References to people with Limited English Proficiency mentioning people whose first language is American Sign Language (ASL), because they are not always thought of as needing language accommodation.
  • Use of the term special in relation to needs and how it can create or reinforce a cognitive bias.
  • Specifically mentioning assistive technology (AT), and the importance of not separating a person from their AT.
  • Having AT readily available in a shelter situation.

Additional Information

Date of Publication: 
Tuesday, January 14, 2020


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