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Preface

Executive Order 13347 and The Council

The Interagency Coordinating Council on Emergency Preparedness and Individuals with Disabilities (The Council) was established under Executive Order (EO) 13347, signed by President George W. Bush on July 22, 2004. The Executive Order, Individuals with Disabilities in Emergency Preparedness, calls for the Federal Government to appropriately support safety and security for individuals with disabilities in all types of emergency situations through a coordinated effort among federal agencies that includes the following:

  • Considering the unique needs of agency employees with disabilities and individuals with disabilities whom the agency serves;
  • Encouraging, through the provision of technical assistance, as appropriate, consideration of the unique needs of employees and individuals with disabilities served by state, local, and tribal governments and private organizations and individuals in emergency preparedness planning; and
  • Facilitating cooperation among federal, state, local, and tribal governments as well as private organizations and individuals

The Workplace Subcommittee

The Council established eight subcommittees to address the many facets of this issue. In particular, the Emergency Preparedness in the Workplace Subcommittee has been tasked with addressing emergency preparedness related to individuals with disabilities within the governmental and private sector workplaces. The Subcommittee focuses on strategies for ensuring that the development, implementation, and maintenance of workplace emergency preparedness plans fully include the unique perspectives and needs of individuals with disabilities. The following agencies have participated in the Subcommittee's work to date:

Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy (Chair)

Access Board

Department of State

Department of Homeland Security

Department of Transportation

Department of Agriculture

Department of the Treasury

Department of Commerce

Environmental Protection Agency

Department of Defense

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Department of Education

Federal Communications Commission

Department of Energy

General Services Administration

Department of Health and Human Services

Office of Personnel Management

Department of the Interior

Social Security Administration

Department of Justice

During 2004-05, the Subcommittee primarily focused on the Federal Government, documenting effective emergency preparedness strategies and identifying key issues associated with fully including individuals with disabilities. The lessons learned by federal agencies will ultimately enable the Council to approach other employment sectors with effective practices and model policies that can be readily modified for use by state and local governments, nonprofit organizations, and the business community.

Important Note to Readers

Preparing the Workplace for Everyone is meant to serve as a launching point for federal agencies as they re-evaluate and strengthen their Occupant Emergency Plans (OEPs), which are required for all federal agencies by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).1 This framework of guidelines reflects the effective practices of nearly 20 federal agencies gathered from direct input, existing reports and articles, and actual emergency plans.

According to t he National Council on Disability (NCD), in its 2005 report, Saving Lives: Including People with Disabilities in Emergency Planning:

In disaster management activities it is important to think about disability broadly. Traditional narrow definitions of disability are not appropriate. The term disability does not apply just to people whose disabilities are noticeable, such as wheelchair users and people who are blind or deaf. The term also applies to people with heart disease, emotional or psychiatric conditions, arthritis, significant allergies, asthma, multiple chemical sensitivities, respiratory conditions, and some visual, hearing, and cognitive disabilities.2

The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has historically recognized mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery as the phases of emergency management. However, many of the issues addressed in this framework of guidelines may emerge in multiple phases. Consequently, in order to enhance both the usability and readability of Preparing the Workplace for Everyone, topics are explored in light of four phases of emergency preparedness plans: development, implementation, practice, and maintenance.

For each topic, an explanation is provided, followed by a list of considerations. The critical questions posed are intended to assist agencies in conducting a quick, informal self-assessment of existing emergency preparedness plans and to aid in plan development and improvement. While careful consideration has been given to including guiding principles, critical questions, and agency examples, this should not be viewed as a comprehensive compilation. Furthermore, the considerations presented are not intended to supersede or replace any existing policy or legislation, but simply provide a framework for ensuring the needs of people with disabilities are taken into account in workplace emergency preparedness. Please consult the appropriate entities for additional details on a particular subject.

As is the nature of emergency preparedness, this framework is an evolving document. It is anticipated that updates will periodically be issued to reflect significant enhancements in the field. The Subcommittee welcomes examples of agency effective practices and/or feedback regarding the ways the template has aided in formulating or strengthening an agency plan. Please contact the Subcommittee at (202) 693-7880.


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