DAA News Network

USA: City’s disaster plans to discriminate against disabled people

Posted 14/2-11 at 17.43

A federal judge has ruled that Los Angeles is discriminating against disabled people by failing to include them in its emergency preparedness plans.

The judge wrote that, "Because of the city's failure to address their unique needs, individuals with disabilities are disproportionately vulnerable to harm in the event of an emergency or disaster." She also noted that in 2008 the city's own Department on Disability reported that disabled residents are "at-risk for suffering and death in disproportionate numbers."

Finding that the city had violated the Americans With Disabilities Act, she ordered officials to meet with the parties that brought the lawsuit within three weeks to come up with a plan.

Advocates said the need for a plan encompassing disabled people was highlighted during Hurricane Katrina, when mortality rates were drastically higher for elderly and disabled people than for the general population.

Shawna Parks, legal director of the Disability Rights Legal Center, said the ruling was the first of its kind in the nation and she hoped it would lead to reforms around the country.


Editorial comment: This is an extremely significant case as it highlights the urgent need to make all disaster planning fully inclusive. Protecting disabled people in times of emergencies is particularly important in Los Angeles, a city vulnerable to earthquakes, wildfires and floods.



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