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ANSI-HSSP Releases Final Report on Emergency Preparedness for Persons with Disabilities and Special Needs

For the millions of Americans with special needs, emergencies and natural disasters present a unique challenge. Catastrophic events such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the 9/11 attacks revealed the crucial need for standards and other means of guidance to enhance emergency preparedness for persons with special needs.

In an effort to advance standardization efforts in this area, the American National Standards Institute Homeland Security Standards Panel (ANSI-HSSP) has released a final workshop report outlining recommendations for the timely development of standards to support more effective emergency preparedness for all. The report consolidates the panel's findings from a series of 2010 workshops that examined various aspects of the standards and codes needed for reducing barriers to accessibility in emergencies.

Understanding Accessibility

Since the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) twenty years ago, the definition of "disability" has shifted from an underlying physical or mental condition to a complex interaction between a person and his or her environment.

Through the work of the ANSI-HSSP and other initiatives, barriers that prevent full social participation are increasingly being identified, addressed, and removed to support independence and promote involvement in all aspects of society.

The aim of the report is to educate key stakeholders on the challenges and standardization gaps relating to emergency preparedness, and to serve as a call to standards developers to take necessary action on identified gaps.

To download the report, click here.

More than eighty individuals representing technical experts, members of the standards community, code officials, federal agencies, and disability advocacy groups from approximately fifty public and private sector organizations participated in the ANSI-HSSP workshop series.

The three workshops covered:

Accessibility Codes and Standards - May 24, 2010
Chair: Dominic Sims, chief operating officer, International Code Council (ICC)

Standards for Products and Assistive Devices - May 25, 2010
Co-Chairs: Chris Dubay, vice president and chief engineer, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and Gordon Gillerman, director, standards services group, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Emergency Evacuation Operations - June 17, 2010
Chair: Allan Fraser, senior building code specialist, NFPA

Presentations from all three workshops are available here. [see related news item]

ANSI-HSSP is a public-private partnership with the mission of assisting the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate, the private sector, and others in accelerating the identification, development, and adoption of consensus standards critical to homeland security.

The ANSI-HSSP welcomes all feedback or inquiries about the final workshop report. Comments should be directed to Karen Hughes, ANSI director of homeland security standards, at [email protected].


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


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Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


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