Disability and Disaster

Authored by: David Alexander , JC Gaillard , Ben Wisner

The Routledge Handbook of Hazards and Disaster Risk Reduction

Print publication date:  December  2011
Online publication date:  March  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415590655
eBook ISBN: 9780203844236
Adobe ISBN: 9781136918698


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It is a fundamental principle in the modern world that people with disabilities be given the opportunity to participate in modern society with as few impediments as possible. There is no justification for relaxing this principle when emergencies and disasters occur. Nevertheless, people with disabilities may encounter physical barriers or experience particular difficulties of communication that prevent them from reacting effectively to crisis situations and stop them from using the facilities and assistance made available to people who do not live with disabilities. In the aftermath of disaster there may be systematic, or systemic, discrimination against people with disabilities. In addition, in some, indeed perhaps many, situations people with disabilities can make valuable contributions to planning risk reduction and disaster response. However, to tap this potential and broaden participation, authorities need to take proactive steps discussed later in this chapter.

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