More MS news articles for Jan 2002

National Organization On Disability Meets With Director Ridge, Pursues Emergency Planning For Those With Disabilities

Americans with disabilities are eager to participate in and contribute to emergency preparedness planning, National Organization on Disability (N.O.D.) President Alan A. Reich told Office of Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge.

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Jan 2002

Americans with disabilities are eager to participate in and contribute to emergency preparedness planning, National Organization on Disability (N.O.D.) President Alan A. Reich told Office of Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge at a White House meeting in November. Director Ridge referenced the meeting with Reich and N.O.D. Board Chairman Michael R. Deland when he updated the nation on his office's work. The Director publicly affirmed his commitment to work with this major segment of the U.S. population.

"One of the challenges for the Office of Homeland Security -- and it's a wonderful challenge -- is to integrate all the Americans who want to help be part of homeland security into a national strategy. And, to that end, ...the National Organization on Disability visited the office," said Director Ridge. "Obviously, they've got some unique and very special challenges that we'd have to deal with, but they also have some very unique and, I think, probably helpful ideas and we want to integrate them in the process of developing a national strategy."

"We are pleased that Director Ridge is attuned to the concerns and needs of people with disabilities, and we are committed to work with him and his office to ensure that people with all types of disabilities are included in planning for and responding to emergencies," said Reich. "The attacks of September 11 have had a profound impact on the disability community. In addition to the feelings of grief and loss shared by all Americans, we are facing many new concerns. How can people with disabilities, their communities and workplaces prepare for future disaster situations? What can we contribute to current relief efforts?"

Immediately after the terrorist strikes of Sept. 11 heightened the country's awareness of the need to be prepared for future terrorist actions, as well as other man-made and natural disasters, N.O.D. convened a Task Force representing leading disability organizations, federal agencies and emergency response and disaster relief organizations. That Task Force is pursuing the best ways to integrate America's 54 million citizens with disabilities into the nation's emergency preparedness plans at all levels - national, state and local.

The Task Force believes it is critical that people with disabilities themselves participate in emergency preparedness planning in order to ensure that the responses developed are appropriate to them. Roughly a fifth of the population has a disability - 54 million men, women and children - have a disability; since anyone can join this community in an instant, everyone has a stake in including people with disabilities in disaster planning. This means that all businesses, apartment buildings, colleges and universities, government buildings, and other public and private facilities and entire communities must make emergency planning for people with disabilities a high priority within the framework of emergency response. Successful plans will incorporate the valuable perspectives and experience of people with disabilities.

Further information about emergency preparedness for people with disabilities is available at N.O.D.'s website, http://www.nod.org.

 
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