Thought you might be interested.
Beth T. the OT
From: [log in to unmask] [mailto:[log in to unmask]]On
Behalf Of Mark Quigley
Sent: Monday, September 09, 2002 9:43 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
NEWS FEATURE NCD #02-385
September 10, 2002
Contact: Mark S. Quigley
National Council on Disability Feature:
Homeland Security, September 11, and People with Disabilities
WASHINGTON-The National Council on Disability (NCD) released its 2001 annual
National Disability Policy: A Progress Report
July 26, 2002. The Report highlights a number of issues including homeland
security and its impact on people with disabilities.
>From a term that would have evoked various interpretations and a great deal
of puzzlement among the general public as recently as last summer, "homeland
security" has emerged as a central concern of government and citizens and as
a major component of national, state, and local budgets. As we commemorate
the horrific occurrences of September 11, 2001, and as we plan for how our
nation will respond to contingencies that we all hope will never occur
again, the presence among us of 54 million Americans with disabilities must
not be overlooked or forgotten.
Experience in the grim and terrifying hours of September 11 illustrates many
of the issues facing this segment of our population.
* People who are deaf often could not follow news reports on TV, because of
the lack of captions. If life-and-death instructions were conveyed by the
emergency warning broadcast system today, would their accessibility to
people who cannot hear be ensured?
* Evacuation plans for major buildings and facilities did not always include
provisions to ensure that people with disabilities could have an equal
chance of exiting the building. If a major facility had to be evacuated
today, would occupants who are blind have the means of knowing the location
of emergency exits? Would people using wheelchairs know where to go or what
to do if elevators were turned off? Would people who cannot hear be alerted
by visual alarms to the need for swift action? Would people with vocal
communication disabilities be heard when rescuers searched for those in need
To put the matter in yet starker terms, if a nuclear facility were to be the
target of terrorism and public health officials were to distribute potassium
iodide to protect the populace against the effects of radiation, would
people with disabilities know where to get it, have physical access to the
distribution centers, be able to open the packages or seals, or be able to
read the usage instructions?
As the imperatives of domestic security and national preparedness make more
vividly clear than ever, these concerns are far from abstract. It is easy to
say that someone would help them, would do it for them, but is that
comforting expectation enough? In too many instances, NCD has learned of the
emergence of assumptions and stereotypes of people with disabilities-for
example, restricting the access of people with disabilities to lower levels
of workplaces, places of public accommodations, and housing. This treatment
flies in the face of the closely held values of independence and freedom in
the disability community.
The recently published NCD Progress Report covers many issues bearing on the
equality of opportunity and equality of treatment. These do not cease to be
real in the face of emergency. Let us learn from our tragedy and let us use
our solidarity and shared sense of national purpose to ensure accessibility
and equality, not only in our reaction to danger but as well in the pursuit
of our hopes. The values we embrace and offer to others are not values for
some. They are nothing if not values for all.
For more information, contact Mark Quigley at 202-272-2004 or Celane
McWhorter at 703-683-1166.
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