In wake of the Black Forest fire Patricia Yeager, CEO of the Independence Center, responds to emergency efforts of the city, county and local media in regards to disability access.

“What a difference a year makes. This year’s response to the Black Forest disaster for people with disabilities seems to have gone much better. Kudos to KOAA, Fox, KKTV, and KDRO who improved their emergency communications for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing communities. Live captioning was provided and better information on the scroll at the bottom of the TV screen made it much easier to understand what was happening. The county provided sign language interpreters during the briefings a day after the fire started and the TV stations worked to get it right on how to include the interpreter even when the camera shifted to another view. In addition, disability access did not seem to be a problem at the shelter at Palmer Ridge High School. The Red Cross volunteers we met were experienced with accessible shelter issues which helped tremendously. Also, the county sheriff offered information on how to evacuate if one could not self-evacuate through its websites and TV media; where to go was abundantly clear. These were issues brought up after the Waldo fire and I am pleased to see that accessible emergency alerts, evacuations, and shelter have greatly improved for those with disabilities.

Maybe the silver lining in the Waldo fire is that we were able to practice preparedness for this year and the future. All of us, including people with disabilities and their families must create a disaster plan for ourselves now that local governments are doing a much better job including the disability community’s issues in their plan.”

Patricia Yeager, CEO of The Independence Center

To view the article on The Gazette’s website click the following link: http://gazette.com/bureaucracy-is-the-challenge-responses-to-boys-in-a-closet/article/1502485