Melissa J. Nixon, DVM
Gateway to ADA information
Access Guide for Incident Facilities
DOJ ADA Guide for Small Towns
DOJ response to ARC enquiry regarding ADA
ARC ADA Resource guide
Comments of an ADA lobbyist after Hurricane Katrina
Accessible features of the Puyallup fairgrounds
On Volunteers with Disabilities
Note: These links were valid as of May 2006. If you find a link does not work, please notify the author at Figaro@saber.net so the manual may be updated.
It is not only our moral obligation to make our facilities as accessible as possible to disaster victims looking for their displaced animals, wishing to leave an animal in our care, or reclaiming an animal after a disaster - it is our legal obligation as well. I believe we also should do our best to be of extra assistance in the evacuation and sheltering of pets belonging to folks with special needs. We should facilitate accessibility for service dogs accompanying their disabled partners and be willing to offer special accommodations if a service animal needs to be in our care.
We also have an obligation to be accessible to volunteers with a disability who wish to join our organization.
There is room for flexibility - for instance, a trailer used as a command center with steps but no ramp leading to the door may have a bell accessible to someone in a wheelchair. When the bell is rung, an ARG volunteer will promptly and courteously come out to meet the person and address their needs from outside the trailer.
Other accommodations may be TTY for a deaf person, a sign language interpreter, a handicapped parking space, or honoring the legal rights of a service dog team. Portable bathrooms now come in a wheel-chair accessible model.
A disabled volunteer with computer abilities wishing to help with communications may be accommodated in a cabin style tent with special mats next to the command center trailer, especially if a Local Area Network is extant for online access. This same tent would then be accessible to others with disabilities who might wish to access the command center. Or the volunteer may be comfortable with having a couple of able bodied and strong volunteers lift her wheelchair up and down the steps. She may be able to walk up the steps with assistance from her service dog, which will then snooze under her desk while she works. A temporary ramp may fit over the stairs.
Remember: Communication, Cooperation, Coordination, and Creativity.