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Major hazards and people with disabilities: A toolkit for good practice
This Toolkit provides guidance and good practice examples for civil protection professionals and decision makers, disaster officers, emergency managers, disabled peoples’ organisations and people with disabilities and their families to ensure the active involvement of people with disabilities in disaster-related activities.
The focus is on Council of Europe and EUR-OPA member states, but other examples from around the world are also included to give a wider perspective. Initiatives already undertaken in some Council of Europe member States include alerts via mobile devices, sign language courses for firefighters and communication materials for rescuers and people with disabilities. The Toolkit pays particular attention to the local level and provides guidance on how to include local particularities into a generalised structure at regional or national level.
The Council of Europe organised a survey to collect good practices from the member states, to obtain information about promising initiatives or programmes and to compile a toolkit. A key decision was to include people will all kinds of disabilities: physical, sensory and cognitive. Many disabilities are not visible, yet the people with those disabilities still have needs which must be addressed to prevent an increase in their vulnerability to disasters. Additionally, an individual’s health status may worsen or improve over time.
There is growing evidence that reducing disaster risk is a cost-effective investment in preventing casualties, physical damage, and economic losses. This process includes the necessity of providing universal accessibility for people with disabilities and involving them in emergency response and disaster risk reduction. National and local government entities, private and public sectors and individuals and residents have found that including people with disabilities has enhanced their capacities in these tasks in many places, with immense pay-offs
Despite the fact that the initiative for this toolkit emerged from a particular focus on people with disabilities, the content is based on the concept of Design for All underlining that suggested activities should take into consideration human diversity in a holistic way.