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Texas Survey Recommends More Preparedness Efforts for People with Disabilities


January 26, 2010

According to a recent survey, Texans living with disabilities may not be adequately prepared to supply themselves with essentials, such as food and medicine, in the case of a pandemic or other emergency.

In response to the H1N1 pandemic, the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities (TGCPD), a division within the Governor’s Office that advises on a wide range of disability issues, created a survey to determine the level of preparedness and outstanding needs of the state’s population with disabilities.

Between Aug. 7 and Dec. 31, 2009, a total of 620 people from 113 Texas counties responded to the survey. The information they provided showed that, while many were informed about how to prevent the flu, a smaller majority (32.4%) had emergency plans in place and essential supplies readily available.

Keeping stockpiles of essentials in case of emergency is of particular importance for people who may be reliant on medication for their well-being and survival. Of the 620 who responded, only 322 said they had a two-week supply of medication on hand.

Fortunately, a large number of respondents (82.9%) would rely on a support network of family and friends who would get in touch in case of an emergency.

In their analysis of the survey, the TGCPD emphasized the importance of encouraging Texans with disabilities to make personal preparedness plans and kits. The department also recommended that the state’s cities and towns collaborate with community organizations to conduct home visits and one-on-one assistance in developing these emergency precautions.

In addition, communications during a pandemic or other emergency should be accessible according to the following recommendations:
  • Including captioning, sign language interpretation, and audio description in the development of public service announcements;
  • Live broadcasts on television should include captioning and/or sign language interpretation of both the announcer and any person being interviewed;
  • Caregivers, attendants, and guardians of children with chronic health disabilities should follow strict hygiene measures;
  • Any written materials should include materials in Braille and large print or an electronic accessible Word version for Texans using screen readers.
  • State and federal Web sites should be Section 508 compliant including any text description of images, graphs, or charts describing information and the avoidance of using color only to designate important information.
  • Developing accessible messages at pre-pandemic, pandemic, and post-pandemic stages.


 

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