Education, Training & Technical Assistance to Other Relief Agencies As indicated, through direct services to consumers -- and from inquiries and reports from other service providers -- CIDNY was able to track systemic and policy issues affecting service delivery to people with disabilities. The agency responded to these issues by:
Participating in the United Services Group (USG), a coalition of disaster relief and service-providing agencies that met periodically to share information, discuss policy, and plan actions. CIDNY participated in the USG’s Case Management Working Group, Technology Committee, Training Committee, Public Relations Committee and Service Coordinator Steering Committee.
Creating and distributing basic informational materials to other agencies about disability issues, benefits and resources, as well as materials specific to serving “hard-to-reach” populations.
Offering education and training workshops to other agencies, and assisting them in integrating materials on disability awareness and the impact of having a newly-acquired disability into their own training and orientation programs.
Answering questions from individual service coordinators at other agencies about disabled World Trade Center consumers among their caseload, and accompanying consumers to meetings with other service or benefits providers as their advocate.
In the first months after the attack, CIDNY conducted daily conference calls with FEMA and the Red Cross. One major issue was the need for accommodations at the Disaster Assistance Centers, where people applied for assistance from dozens of government and private relief agencies. Multiple visits were often required. Many people with disabilities were unable to apply for benefits because they could not stand on line for the long periods of time required. At the start, there were no chairs at centers, and people were not allowed to send representatives to file applications on their behalf, even if they were homebound prior to the attack. FEMA did not see a need for accommodations because, as one CIDNY staffer recalled, “They said they had received 10,000 applications and none were from people with disabilities. But they had taken the question on disability out of their screening interviews to save time.” Eventually, FEMA restored the disability screening question, making it possible for them to track applications from people with disabilities.