Monthly Archives: April 2012

Disaster and disability: Seven preparation points

Natural disasters are always inclusive.
Often the response is not.

It was clear from the Christchurch earthquakes that disability support providers, particularly small local rather than national providers, have the same difficulties as other organisations and businesses when there is a major disaster. Access to premises and records, the availability of staff and so on are among them. People may not have access to their regular assistance. So disaster preparedness for the general population must take account of the needs of disabled people, and not silo them off into a separate process, or simply forget about them.

The other day (April 15th) I was listening to Te Ahi Kaa  on Radio New Zealand. The programme described setting up the Wainuiomata marae as a welfare centre. They sounded very well organised.

In thinking about their task I reflected on what they could do to set up a really inclusive welfare centre. Of course they might already have thought of these things, or they might already be on the prescribed comprehensive list.

Some of my top of mind considerations:

  1. Access – Is the building which will house the welfare centre accessible to everyone? Does it meet or exceed NZ Standard for access 4121?
  2. Reception – Do those who will be the first contact at the centre have disability training so they can recognize and welcome all kinds of disabled people?
  3. Interpreters – Will each centre have access to New Zealand Sign Language interpreters, or at least people with some grasp of NZ Sign Language? Accessible information will be critical for a number of disabled and other people.
  4. Accommodations – Will the centre accept and provide water and toileting areas for service dogs?
  5. Know how – Will those staffing the centre know how to interact with a hard of hearing person? Will they be able to guide and orient a blind person, to assist in a way that preserves the dignity of people with physical impairments who need help with feeding and toileting?
  6. Be prepared – Will there be emergency supplies for frail elder and those disabled people who may need incontinence products, drinking straws or particular foods?
  7. Housing – Will those allocating housing and alternative accommodation have some understanding of accessibility?

Of course many disabled people can take some responsibility for preparing for disasters ourselves. Cover of Disaster Preparedness for People with Disabilities

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Filed under Disability Issues, Inclusion

Health literacy for grown-ups

The other day my chiropractor recommended the Straighten Up New Zealand (SUNZ) programme. When I told him I could only find the kids’ version on the leaflet stand he explained that the kids’ version was the best as it was easier to understand. A pragmatic decision to use material designed for kids might just about be OK, if the adults’ version doesn’t work, but I feel patronised using something designed for children. Not the best way to engage my participation.

I wondered why the original material was developed without understanding the audience or testing the draft. Perhaps the kids’ version should be adapted for an adult audience, using the same simple style of drawings, plain English and large print in a easy to read font.

The SUNZ web site looked promising, with different audiences identified on the home page, although the slabs of bright colour are a bit hard on the eyes, but then the grown-ups page is all sad slabs of boring grey text, and the practitioners will need sunglasses for their page. This site cries out for some video, with captions and transcriptions of course.

Note – I didn’t check the web site for accessibility.

Straighten Up New Zealand - Grown ups introduction page - grey block text

Straighten Up New Zealand - Grown ups introduction page

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Filed under Information Accessibility, Web Accessibility