Lessons learned from the world trade center disaster: Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities in New York September 2004 contents

Removing Barriers to Full Integration by Relief and Service-Providing Organizations

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CIDNY consumer case file

  1. Removing Barriers to Full Integration by Relief and Service-Providing Organizations

From the outset, lack of appropriate access and accommodations for people with disabilities seeking response and recovery services in the aftermath of the WTC attack was evident, reflecting, among other factors, methods of program administration that disregarded needs specific to those with physical, medical, cognitive or psychiatric conditions. Through its work with WTC consumers, CIDNY identified a series of administrative procedures that resulted in inappropriate service denials with a wide range of public and private agencies. CIDNY also observed that agencies lacked disability-related information.

In particular, people with disabilities effected by the WTC attack were unable to access services because, for example: they could not read signs, they lacked access to ASL translation at service and disaster sites, there were no TTY system set up for reaching specific hotlines, there was a disregard for reimbursement of assistive technology destroyed in the attack, and there was a lack of effort to make visits to homebound consumers to assist with disaster relief paper work.

CIDNY received a call from a displaced Battery Park City resident with a mobility impairment. She had called FEMA to register and assess damage to her apartment. FEMA regulations required that she meet the FEMA representative at her apartment to assess damage. For the consumer, this was physically impossible, particularly given debris and other barriers situated around the vicinity of the WTC attack. When she was unable to comply, FEMA closed her case. CIDNY successfully advocated with FEMA to establish a waiver of this requirement for people with mobility impairments.

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