(Released 30 July 2015) Washington, D.C. - Today, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Portlight Strategies (Portlight) announced an agreement that will increase preparedness awareness for people with disabilities in the event of natural or man-made disasters. The agreement aligns with FEMA’s commitment to inclusive emergency management by partnering with disability organizations and community leaders who serve the whole community at the local level.
“As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we are also reinforcing our commitment to serving the whole community before, during and after disasters,” said Craig Fugate, FEMA Administrator. “By having preparedness plans and thinking ahead, individuals, families and communities will be ready to respond to these events when they occur.”
The new partnership will bolster working relationships with state, local, tribal and territorial emergency managers to encourage including people with disabilities in planning. It will also provide information so people understand the disaster risks in their area. By evaluating their own individual needs and making an emergency plan that ﬁts those needs, people can be better prepared.
Some key highlights from the agreement show that FEMA and Portlight will:
Participate in training events and natural and simulation exercises, drills, and discussions focused on emergency preparedness and lessening the impact of disasters;
Share operational practices that work well and that may be adapted to make improvements in service delivery and support community resilience and accessibility for people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs; and
Share research-based emergency management data and information and training experience and expertise before, during, and after disasters.
"We're excited about this next important step in our relationship with FEMA and the ways it will enhance our ability to serve the disability community in times of disaster,” said Paul Timmons Jr., Portlight Co-founder and Board Chair. “It embodies our philosophy that there must be nothing about us without us.”
The primary mission of Portlight Strategies, Inc. (Portlight) is to provide disaster relief and recovery services specifically for people with disabilities and to facilitate accessible services—compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)—from all providers, whether governmental or non-governmental.