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Mayor Greg Stanton, Councilman Michael Nowakowski, Chairman of Public Safety and Veterans Subcommittee; Christine Chuang, Senior Staff Attorney, Disability Rights Advocates, Sarah Kader, Arizona Center for Disability Law, and Phil Pangrazio, President & CEO, Arizona Bridge to Independent Living, and other City Staff.

May 19, 2015

In Phoenix, nearly one out of every ten people report having a disability. If an emergency or natural disaster were to take place, the city of Phoenix wants to make sure that there’s a plan in place to get the most vulnerable in the community to safety.

Today, the city of Phoenix, in partnership with Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) and the Arizona Center for Disability Law (ACDL), announced a plan to revise its Emergency Operations Plan to ensure that the most vulnerable in the community are taken care of in times of crisis.

“Every person in Phoenix should feel assured knowing that there’s a plan in place for them should a disaster take place,” said Mayor Greg Stanton. “Phoenix is committed to doing the right thing.”

Major disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy have prompted cities like Phoenix, to recognize the need for specialized emergency planning, especially for people with disabilities. Before Hurricane Katrina hit, more than a third of the population were physically unable to evacuate because of a disability.

“Phoenix has taken great steps in recent years to provide  support to the disabled community, including the adoption of the new accessibility icon and being the first city in Arizona to train nearly half of city staff in communicating with the deaf community,” said Councilman Michael Nowakowski, Chairman of the Public Safety Subcommittee.

The city will soon enter into a contract with BCFS’s Emergency Management Division to revise the plan. BCFS is a non-profit, national leader in emergency preparedness and has responded to major incidents including 9/11, the H1N1 flu pandemic, tornadoes, fires and earthquakes. Phoenix’s revised emergency plan will identify a specific course of action related to transportation, shelter, communication and evacuation for those who cannot hear, see or walk.

“We are pleased to be working cooperatively with Phoenix to ensure that the needs of people with disabilities are met during emergencies,” said Mary-Lee Kimber Smith, Managing Attorney at Disability Rights Advocates. “We hope that cities throughout the nation will respond as Phoenix has and take action to improve their emergency planning.”

“Keeping individuals safe and prepared in times of crisis is so important, and we are very glad the City of Phoenix made the safety and preparedness of people with disabilities in Phoenix a priority,” said Sarah Kader, Staff Attorney at the Arizona Center for Disability Law.

About Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) With offices in New York and California, DRA is one of the leading nonprofit disability rights legal centers in the nation. Its mission is to advance equal rights and opportunity for people with all types of disabilities nationwide. DRA has achieved dramatic
improvements for people with disabilities seeking employment, transportation, voting, and housing. DRA works with entities nationwide to ensure that emergency preparedness plans are inclusive of people with disabilities. www.dralegal.org.
About Arizona Center for Disability Law (ACDL)

ACDL is nonprofit public interest law firm, dedicated to advocating for the rights of individuals with a wide range of physical, mental, psychiatric, sensory, and cognitive disabilities. ACDL’s mission is to advocate for the legal rights of persons with disabilities to be free from abuse, neglect and discrimination and to gain access to services, maximizing independence and achieving equality. www.acdl.com.

Contact: Tammy Vo, Marketing & Communications Manager
City of Phoenix
602-534-5561, cell: 602-369-3360

Sarah E. Kader, Staff Attorney
Arizona Center for Disability Law

Kate Hamilton, Development & Communications Director
Disability Rights Advocates