ILLINOIS (WEHT) – July 26 marks the 32nd anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990 and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) is encouraging all local public safety and emergency management agencies to reaffirm plans.

“All emergency and disaster preparation plans must include provisions for people with disabilities in accordance with new state legislation passed last year, and we want Illinois to be one of the most proactive states in accessibility,” said IEMA Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau. “This includes sharing plans on disaster response, evacuation planning, open captioning, and sign language to warn of severe weather.”

IEMA says to enhance statewide efforts, IEMA’s Access and Functional Needs Advisory Committee researches and provides recommendations on integrating access and functional needs into state and local emergency plans.

IEMA gives the following tips for inclusion:

  • Work with people with disabilities when updating any emergency management plans, programs, policies, and procedures.
  • Provide information in multiple formats including large print, braille, and audio.
  • Improve transportation needs for people with wheelchairs, medical needs, and service animals.
  • Share training to address emergency staffing, equipment, medical supplies, food and beverages, family/assistant reunification.
  • Ensuring shelters have low-stimulation aka “stress-relief zones.”

More information about the IEMA Access and Functional Needs Advisory Committee can be found here Access and Functional Needs Advisory Committee – Preparedness, and more information on preparing to assist people with disabilities in an emergency can be found at the U.S. Department of Justice Information webpage on Technical Assistance on the ADA.