[This morning session is going to be recorded. Just in case
you are a little camera shy, we are sending around a consent.
If you don't want to be captured on tape I will be in back of
the room. Just write your question out. Read this over. We
will circulate this during the session. If you have questions I
will be in the back of the room.]
Female Presenter: I am going to start. I am Sharlene Cansbe.
I'm from the University of Arizona. You are here to discuss
something very important. How to prepare if you have a
disaster in light of people who have disabilities. How will we
be ready? That's really what we are going to talk about
today. What do we do before so we are ready after?
I'm going to introduce the first speaker. This is John Vaughn.
I am so thrilled he was willing to come today. He was in
private business for much of his life. Then in 1994 he was
named commissioner of the Virginia Department of
Rehabilitation Services and also the commissioner of the
Virginia Department for Blind and Vision Impaired. He served
in that capacity for some time. Then in 2002 he was
appointed to the Florida Rehabilitation Advisory Council for
Blind Services. So he really has a lot of good ground
experience with rehabilitation. He knows what rehabilitation
The thing that excites me more is that in 2006 he was
appointed by President Bush to the chair of National Council
of Disabilities. This is the chair for National Council of
Disabilities. We are so honored to have him here. It's a very
powerful council. It advises the president. It advises
Congress and a lot of people. It has a lot of power in its
advising. We are really happy to have to you here.
The reason I invited John was because the National Council on
Disabilities is really focused on the issue, they are strongly
focusing on and doing a lot of work relative to this topic. So I
thought it was really important for you to know what is going
on at the national level. Then we will start at the national
level and move down to the more specific level about what can
we do at home. How can we prepare? What is it we need to
do at home, not only in the communities specifically but at our
house. We are starting at the big picture and then moving a
little bit narrower and then a little bit narrower.
John, we are delighted to have you with us.
John Vaugn: I am delighted to be here as well. If my voice
sounds strained, it's become strained. Janie, my wife, and I
just got back two days ago from a cruise around Italy. So I
don't know if it is just all that catching up with me, but I
usually don't sound like this harsh and rough. Maybe it's just
Jack Kempft always sounds sortof deep. I was a Buffalo Bill
I did spend a lot of my career in the banking industry. I
retired from there. Bankers are really good people. I need to
get credibility with you all first. That's important. I am
sitting down because I use my laptop to keep notes. I wasn't
as prepared as I should have been. I should have made sure
there was a podium and I could stand up. If that will work
fine with you, it will work fine with me.
Bankers are really good guys. I was just in Italy and I
thought of the first banker. Remember those banks?
Bankers really are good people. We have had some people give
us bad reps, JP Morgan, etc. I was trained as an economist
and was involved in investments and business banking. But
bankers are really good people. To illustrate the point, at the
pearly gates are three former bankers: the Medici, JP
Morgan, and our Allan Greenspan. St. Peter meets them and
shows them to their rooms where they will spend eternity.
They go to the first room. The door opens and there is a big
gorilla ready for action. A booming voice says "Medici,
because you have sinned you will spend eternity with this
gorilla." Then he says the rest of you are pretty nervous.
At the next door there is a python. The booming voice says
"JP Morgan, because you have sinned you will spend eternity
with this python." Greenspan he has known all of his life. He
is getting nervous. The door opens and there is beautiful
Boderick [sp?] in the room. And the voice says "Boderick,
because you have sinned ....."
I guess we can be punished. Any of you here from Virginia?
Female: Virginia ------ University. [can't hear/can't
John Vaughn: We are doing some things with your school.
I ask that about Virginia because I sometimes think that when
I went into the blind agency and then headed up the general
agency, coming from the business background and as a guy you
all would be proud of because I am a truthful retread in the
I become blind at age 32. I went through some rehab and was
able to stay in banking. I went through some rehab again in
'81, I really got at the bare minimum and the counseling
system helped me out. I went through rehab one more time
when I moved to Florida after I retired as commissioner. I
wanted to get trained so I could teach blind people how to use
assistive technology. I had a case here in Florida.
I appreciate everything you all do. You all have a chance to
touch a lot of people, whether you are individual case
counselors or involved in education. You will touch a lot of
people and can make a lot of difference in the lives of people
with disabilities. We thank you for letting us be here today.
The National Council on Disability was created in 1978. We
will be celebrating our 30th anniversary next year. We were
pulled out of the Department of Education and made into an
independent federal agency that is charged with promoting
programs, policies, practices that promote full inclusion of
people with disabilities into all aspects of life. Into ALL
aspects of life, not just jobs but schools and social life. Every
aspect of life.
We are made up of 15 commissioners all appointed by the
President and confirmed by the US senate. That is because
we are a policy board. We mange and control our 15 employees
who work for us. I advise the chair, designated by the
President, and appoint the executive director who manages
day to day activities of our agency. We are about reviewing
and evaluating various aspects of the disability arena, whether
it be with NITORS, OSERS, the VR process through the
commissioner of RSA, or the implementation and monitoring of
the ADA. Every year we have to provide the President and
Congress with the state of disability. In this we try to
determine the emerging trends happening so that when we are
asked to testify in Congress or by the President we are
prepared to do so.
I am glad to be here to hear any input from people like you.
You can reach me or a chairperson at ncd.gov. We are always
looking for good ideas or thoughts about what we should be
doing. We travel around the country. I have the best job as
chair. I get to live in Florida. I don't have to live in DC. I go
to my office up there once a month. We, as a council, go out
around the country. We will be in Boston in three weeks
holding public hearings and receiving public testimony,
conduction our regular meeting to meet the stake holders.
We were in Chicago for the ADA. We were in San Diego at
the beginning of the year. We were in April in Atlanta. We
hold these meetings to conduct our business, but also to find
out what people are thinking. What things need to be
improved? What needs to be changed? We will be in New
Orleans the 28-30 of January. If any of you are in the area
we would appreciate you coming to the meetings and
We always have call in times. If you go to out website
NCD.gov you will find info about our meetings, access to all of
our reports, and our review and evaluation with our staff and
commissioners. There are 15 of us. We live all over the
country. We are people with disabilities. The President of
Gallaudet University is on our board. I am honored to have
people like him and to be a part of all of it. We are folks that
are parents of children with disabilities. We have a broad
spectrum of people that are mandated by the law.
Now the question is how did we get involved in this activity
right now? Prior to my getting there, the council, about half
of us are still with us as we have rotations of people off, we
can't serve for more than two terms, did a report called
Saving Lives. It talked about the need for preparation of
saving lives in crisis. Eerily, that report came in the spring of
the year of Katrina. We think that because of that when
Congress did the post-Katrina act, which at the time was
known as HR-5441, now public law number. If any of you are in
education, I know when I was study at Ohio in education you
have to remember PL --- all of this, if they just called it an
idea it wouldn't make it so hard. But anyway, when Congress
looked at this and funded FEMA for the next year they
included our agency as a consultee to be involved in various
aspects of how we planned to save lives. This is a new
responsibility we were given. We were given funding by
Congress. Fairly so to FEMA, those folks were shell shocked.
I don't think anyone could have imaged a New Orleans event.
I think the good news is that we learn from our experiences.
We are not there yet, but I think the reports we get back,
and we monitor very closely in our consultee role to FEMA, all
of the natural disasters and man-made, hurricanes, tornadoes,
or fires in California.
Those went on while I was in Italy. I talked to Director
Paulson the night before I left on ways for us to collaborate
and within two days with all got going big time. We couldn't
smell the smoke on the ship, but we could keep up with the
news. The good news so far is that things were handled fairly
well. I think the good things you can all go away with are
three things. I will go into a couple more items here before I
turn it back to Sharlene.
The reality, the way the law is written, emergency
preparedness begins in the local community. Every place we
have gone this year we have included a panel of people involved
in emergency preparedness, whether in Chicago because they
have tornadoes and blizzards. They deal with possible
terrorist threats or buildings catching on fire that are more
than 10 stories.
In Boston we have comparable issues. In Atlanta we brought
in people from Key West and the centers for independent
living. Corpus Kristi to testify for the people from Georgia.
They are dealing with a different setting, natural or manmade.
We really know, and the way the law is written, it all begins in
the local community. All of you come from the local
community. That is good because you are interested in the
needs of people with disabilities.
The second thing you can go home with is the way we still have
an attitudinal barrier to deal with. We commissioned two or
three studies every year at NCED. Our two latest reports
had to do with the implementation of the ADA, another one on
educational outcomes, and another one on employments.
There were three. The educational outcomes is about to
come out. We are finding the biggest barrier is public
attitude and public awareness.
I get frustrated. I have been blind for 32 years. I am 63. I
became legally blind at age 31 as a young banker. I was able to
enjoy a great career because I had bosses that said they
wanted me for my mind not my eyesight. I was fortunate. But
I think the reality is that we are still dealing with attitude
I think FEMA would tell you that they have a cultural problem.
They have got to come to terms with an understanding for the
needs for people with disabilities.
The third thing, as you work with your folks, preparedness
begins with the individual. If they don't take it seriously and
are counting on someone saving them, I wish we could all be
confident that would happen. I think in reality we know it
won't happen. If we get surprised and you don't think about
it ahead of time, so much the better. But if you don't think
about this process and having your own emergency plan you will
be in big trouble because there will be things you could have
done to save your life for improve your situation. You are a
really fortunate to come here. The program looks excellent
with the different things you will see.
I encourage you to go to our website and DHS's website.
There is a lot of info under FEMA and things concerning
people with disabilities and things that can be done to help you
counsel wisely. Be involved in the community. If nothing else,
many of you who are able bodied can go in and hopefully win
over the population to say these people with disabilities, we
need to think about.
I was at a meeting with FEMA here back in August. These
people from FEMA must have been able bodied. We really
wanted to include everyone, but I don't think they do. They
haven't got a mind set that you and I would have and our
families. I can guarantee that in my family, with a blind dad,
if I had a daughter hearing impaired or a mother in a
wheelchair, or maybe a dad with a vision and hearing problem,
we would not have 4 evacuation plans. We would have 1 plan
that was all inclusive. We need to take everyone into
Under our responsibilities were we charged with consulting
with the director of FEMA on hiring a disability coordinator.
Sydnee Daniels has been hired. She interacts with us to look
at all the needs for people with disabilities when it comes to
all the activities that FEMA ... Then in addition to those
responsibilities and the ongoing activity with Sydnee Daniels,
we try to meet with her once a month and the people from the
Department of Homeland Security and even groups like the
consortium for people with disabilities to make the table big
because no one has all the knowledge. We want there to be a
good exchange of ideas.
Just recently we added a cope off exercise. In three places
around the country including Guam in the Pacific, in Merico
county, and Portland, Oregon, unfortunately FEMA forget to
invite a lot of people with disabilities to be participants.
These are the kinds of things we are working with FEMA on,
to make them want to consult with us and other disability
organizations so that when we do these exercises they are
How many wheelchair people? Well, we didn't have any of
those. We didn't have any of those people with canes are
hearing problems. I can guarantee that down here in Florida,
where I live, we have every spring called a dry season. It's
started already which means we will have a lot of fires. We
had a lot of fires last year. The rain year is from June 15 to
Oct 15. It's dry the rest of the year.
When I was meeting with FEMA we had just gotten through
the hurricane season. Then we have the things out west.
What is next? Who knows. We just need to keep our minds
open and doing everything at the national level that facilitates
the local level. I think in California they probably did a pretty
We are also involved in working with FEMA in developing a
national training program, caring out a national exercise
program which we just have and were not as involved as we
wanted to be, nor was the disability community. But mark on
your calendars that in 2009 there will be another exercise.
Then there is to be another comprehensive assessment
program with FEMA to assess how well the national exercise
We are anxiously waiting for FEMA to get their hot wash
reports in, incident management reports, so that we can look
where the failures were. Failures teach us what we need to
learn for the next time. Even with that, we know we won't
solve all the problems for the next time. I think it was called
Grainsburg, Kansas ....
Grainsburg, but there the whole town was wiped out. It was
like New Orleans but on a smaller scale. Then you think about
San Diego county. Then we are to be working with FEMA. We
are, but I'm just letting you know the scope. We have a
remediation program to help them change what they didn't do
and set up a process. We want to do even long term data
gathering so that was we see one problem we don't slip
We are working right now on developing national disaster
housing strategy so that it's assessable for people with
disabilities. We've already developed with them and this is
being reviewed, guidelines for people with disabilities needs in
all aspects, like shelters and mass feeding. Communications
are another thing we are looking at to see there is adequate
communication during times of emergencies. We have also
been asked recently, I talked to the FEMA director on the
22, they have created a national advisory council. We have
been asked to work with some of the groups on that.
I am hoping we will continue to be involved as we try to fill in a
lot of squares. FEMA is taking care of what happens when the
local community gets more than they can handle. What
happens when you need 300 wheelchairs in New Orleans? I
know back my predecessor lived in Houston, Lex Freedon got a
hold of a guy, who is now our executive director, Mike Collins
who is out in California and was involved in their forest fires,
was able to get the wheelchairs to Houston. FEMA didn't
have a clue about it.
We need to be developing at the national level these regional
kinds of frameworks. That's where you all as you work with
your communities can give us input on how to develop these
regional frameworks. Do you do it through the state
independent living councils? Do you do it through state
agencies? I don't know. But I think we have a lot of these
mysteries to solve.
Another thing we are working on at our website is developing a
section called best practices and promising practices. It's
another place that when you go back to your communities and
find things you are doing well you can send it to us to put up on
the website. When we go around the country, every
emergency preparedness professional we've talked to,
including folks involved in disabilities, tell us folks sit around
because they are not quite sure what to do. Everyone is
afraid of making a mistake. Sometimes people forget, I was
trained in investments and it was always I am going to sit on it
because I don't want to make a decision. But you made a
decision when you sit on a stock. You didn't sell it or buy more
of it, so you made your decision.
In America we are so afraid and we think that if we just put
our head in the sand we won't be criticized. We know there is
a big demand in the communities for repositories of best
practices. I picked one up at our local school district. We got
the charts a couple weeks ago. Matt met a lady in the parking
lot. She had realized I was involved in the NCD. She said
one thing we are doing here in this county school system with
60,000 kids is taking all of the special Ed kids, some of the
retarded kids, and are working with developing them skills like
"my name is, my phone number is." We don't know how well its
working, but it's someone thinking about something that could
be important during a hurricane or even a tornado.
I wanted to just go. ... I'm going to stop at this point. Let me
just say that as you work with your people tell them to take
responsibility. Have your clients develop a local network of
support, communication to stay in touch to know what their
needs are in the event of a crisis. My wife is sighted so we
don't need to worry about anything in the case of an event.
But I said what if the house collapses and my wife is trapped.
I need to think about things in case that happens.
Okay. I'm going to turn it over to Sharlene. In if there is
time at the end we can talk about whatever you want. Thank
Sharlene: Let me peak around all of you. We have been on
the phone a lot in the past month. One thing we both agreed
on is that none of us are experts. None of us really know what
we are doing at this point. We are not the experts. We just
think it's important to talk about. The other thing we agreed
on is talking about how important it is for all of us to go back
to the communities and start thinking and planning. Planning is
getting ready for something in the event it occurs.
I've been thinking about how we want to do that. First of all
I am thinking systemically. When you get back one of the
things we need to do is advocate and start finding groups that
we think are important to think process. People who can make
a difference in the planning and carrying out.
I've come up with a list of people I think are important for
you to get together and think about what do to in case of an
emergency. I wanted to start with Information Referral
Services. It's a very powerful service. They typically know
everything a group can do. They are a vital part of the
planning process. If they sitting at your table they can say
that exists or there is a gap here. Information Referral
Services is a really good partner to have in this.
Partner is the word I really want to use. We are trying to
partner with a whole lot of people. Another course is being
sure that we get someone representing the police and fire
department, the military, like Arizona we have a big military
unit. You would want someone representing large bodies of
people who are designed to take care of problems like this.
You want them to be one of your partners.
Certainly the mayors, and mayors office, city council would
want to be part of this so they are with you and can provide
support for you. I think you should have from every TV
station and radio station and any kind of communication
system that exists so that they are thinking about it ahead of
time. They will be more open to your plans if they are involved
in the plans at the roots.
Someone from the phone companies. If they start from the
beginning they will be more included to follow through then if
you just come up with report and hand it to them. You want
them to be involved. Someone who represents each hospital
and horsing homes, rehab centers, schools. At least school
systems, K-12 and universities and colleges. Some kind of
representative from there. Maybe a representative for
sporting arenas, someone who is there and you want them to
start thinking what they can do it plan for this. We are
thinking about housing problems and trying to give people
some place to go.
Any community gathering place, theatres, arenas, asking them
to be involved in the plan. Churches. Certainly people with
disabilities and their families should be involved. They are the
ones who may be more likely to understand the needs.
Independent Living Centers - invite someone who represents
them in the city or community to be a part of it. They will be
so aware of things that are needed, maybe not in time of
emergency but in general for people with disabilities.
Certainly crisis centers and response centers and teams.
There will be a control core of that. It's their job. Any place
that serves people with disabilities, like VR. Have VR and VA
representatives. Also programs for the deaf and blind and
those with disabilities. Also programs for diabetes, any kind
of service providers associated with certain disabilities.
It would be important to have someone from the local housing
bureau and transportation bureau. There is a wholes series.
These are the people you want in the planning. You know what
it's like when you read a final report. You read it, or you put
it up on the shelf, but if you are involved and had some vested
interest you will be more likely to use it and know what is in it.
Some of the activities the group could do, besides planning,
would be to understand what the metropolitan medical
response team already is in your area. What do we already
have. That would be a good beginning. Who is the director?
Who do we call? Another would be to develop a communication
system. Who do I call for when the phones go down? Will I
be able to get a hold of this person? Look at the
communication systems within the community like radio and
TV. Will they work? What if the phones don't work? Does
everyone need walkie talkies? Let's talk about it and figure it
This is one thing he touched on briefly. You said some
wonderful things that I was jotting down. Tell me your name
again, our keynote speaker.
Sharlene: He talked about building a data system of people
who may be in extra need. Somewhere that's preset that you
know where the vulnerable people are and where they are
supposed to be located so that when they disappear they
haven't died in the house for three days. They had help. We
at least know where they should have been, maybe not where
they are. Have some type of data system before it occurs.
You talked about protecting identity theft. It would have to
be very carefully monitored and protected. I think it's really
important to know who is vulnerable and who may need extra
assistance that we may otherwise wouldn't know. It would be
their choice to be on the data.
We talked about scheduling incidence training and simulations.
This would come later on, but schedule some of them. That's
when you discover you forget something simple. You forget a
whole lot of things. Those simulated trainings, not just one,
but also an evaluation. Then try it again and again so that you
really do feel comfortable in different situations. Maybe one
case would be the bomb that would explode in Phoenix and the
radiation was coming down in Tucson. Or a flood, or any kind
of terrorist attack in your community. Whatever - just try
different scenarios so you are prepared.
I think another course would be - and think is important- I've
seen it happen where people get mixed up on who is doing
what. Were the police or fire department supposed to do
that? Was it the swat team or the first response team? I
just heard that the swat team can in and voted because the
response team was tired. Who is going to do what should be
very clear. You can see how they could bump into each other
in hysteria. Who takes precedents. Who has the final say?
In Tucson we have a chart that lists what the people should
be doing. Disseminating and knowing are two different things.
That can cause all kinds of problems if you have two many
people doing things. You can lose people because someone
took them over here instead of over there. It's very
important in understanding whose role is what.
Of course, distributing the plans. Tucson has a beginning plan.
I have distributed it. We will talk about it. It really isn't
been distributed. I found it by going to a presentation. I
think another key thing is making sure that once the plan is
set people have it. If we have the radio and TV involved in the
first place they we will be involved in getting the plan out to
everyone, not just a few, so everyone knows what is going on.
Housing we didn't talk about. You need to make sure what is
going to be done immediately and long term is taken care of.
It's important to think about ahead of time vs afterwards.
What places do we have if they are not destroyed? Are they
ready? What are the resources for long term assistance?
How will we move people? What if we evacuate? How we will
get people into a hospital? How do we get people food? How
do we move people?
Female: This idea popped up in my head as you were talking.
Under system could be state wide, I'm not sure how it would
work, but something like the sex offenders registry where
hospital systems could advise their clients to register for the
system. Emergency contacts could be listed and disabilities.
In an event of an emergency it could be accessed to see
family members in different states. Would it be okay for
them to go there? How would we get them there? Initially a
data base system for people with disabilities could register.
Sharlene: Wonderful. That's how we need to be thinking.
We should think about ideas and trying these so that we can
take the next step.
Female: I'm originally from New Orleans. My parents had to
relocate to Atlanta with me. However, I do believe instead of
randomly going to houses you could have their addresses so
you could immediately access those individuals you would be
most comfortable with.
Sharlene: That's the creative thinking we need. I'm going to
get your mike. I need to use it. Sorry.
Male: In our county we have a system where you put in info
like that. In case of an evacuation those people can come to
Sharlene: I was asked to repeat some of that from the
beginning. I forget to do that. Danielle was talking about how
to set up a data system. It could be at hospitals so people
could write their own information in. Then Shawn was talking
about the 2-1-1 phone system. Would you say that again so I
can repeat it?
Shawn: In our county we have a 211 system through the
county health department in conjunction with all those people
we mentioned. People call in and record.... [Lost sound].
John Vaughn: It's sort of scary. People are afraid to
register because of who is running it. Where I live it's the
center for independent living. We even talked about having
identification that could be accessed through a GPS. We
talked about putting microchips in your hand. There are
things scary about that, but we do it with prisoners.
Sharlene: We have a couple have hands up.
Male: I work for VA in Little Rock. When Katrina happened
the regional office in New Orleans was inundated and lost all
their records and servers. It was down for a long time. The
point I want to make is that with any of these systems you
need to take a careful look at continuity and off site storage
and some portability. There also needs to be some
consideration about if the primary office goes down who will
services be delivered to those who do not need to evacuate.
They will still be in the area. Part of the plan needs to look at
those directly affected and also those who had services
provided by an office in that area.
Male: I enjoyed the list of departments to include, I would
suggest one body that comprises a lot of those is the mayors
advisory committee for people with disabilities. A lot of
towns would have this. Unless it's a wilderness forest fire,
most disasters occur in the city and have ripple affects to the
larger community. I am on the committee and we trained for
three years. In New Orleans we have a data base. There was
a lot of reluctance for people with disabilities to sign up.
Before we established the data base we wanted to have firsts
responders aware of people who needed special attention
because of disabilities. Some communities use a sign on the
door, like you have a pet inside, but there was enormous
disinterest. People didn't want to display a sign outside the
door saying there was a person with disabilities inside.
[can't hear/can't understand]
We really weren't very successful.
I intend to give you my info. I can invite a lot of people to
Sharlene: The mike isn't working?
Sorry. There is nothing we can do. We will just pass this one
We only have five minutes left.
Female: I don't want the microphone. I think we have seen a
lot of people not wanting to display a sign. I have a disability
that is invisible. If I was having problems I wouldn't want
everyone to know - my doctor told me not to tell everyone.
Medical would be important, but it's important for social
works to talk to their clients. I don't think I would respond
to a TV ad, but I would to someone I worked closer with. I
think people on the personal level can help convince us it's for
our own benefit but I'm not going to put anything outside my
door saying this is what I have.
Sharlene: We have two more people. I have a few visual
aides. Lets have the two people and I will show the visual
Male: You mentioned that you were not expert, but you are.
From my experience people feel easy when they know what you
do. You know how to take care of these people. Regarding the
data base, the person and location are important. These data
bases should be separated as much as possible. So just in
case we can combine these two factors. One thing we
experienced in the 211 - there is a case in the governors
office and next door was police with no communications
between the two. You have to have the order from the
government, but they couldn't receive it.
Sharlene: Communication is very important in understanding
who fits where.
Female: I really do think it will take a will lot of efforts.
When I worked in a hospital setting there were many people
who were aging who had been involved in a lifeline program.
Those can be excellent individuals in having these
conversations. It can be a starting point.
Sharlene: I have to show one more thing. You all have a copy
of this for you to take home. It's really something you can
use I am going to hand this out to you. I want you to take out
on a piece of paper what you commit to doing when you go
home. I will send this back to you in a couple of months and
hope to you will remember it and it if you haven't it will serve
as a reminder. If you want to leave it at the front desk. Just
put your pull address and I will send it back to you in a couple