Office for Access and Functional Needs (OAFN)

Purpose of OAFN

California Emergency Management’s Office for Access and Functional Needs (OAFN) purpose is to identify the needs of people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs before, during, and after a disaster and to integrate disability needs and resources into emergency management systems.

According to the U.S. Census of 2010, approximately three million Californians over the age of five years have a disability.  OAFN goal is to strengthen the method and planning of emergency management for people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs.

Achievements

Guidance Document - In 2009, OAFN developed a guidance document for integrating the needs of people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs into emergency management. The updated document, “Guidance on Planning and Responding to the Needs of People with Access and Functional Needs” will be on the Cal EMA website soon.

Certificate of Training Course for Sign-Language Interpreters – OAFN, in collaboration with NorCal Services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing, developed a course to train American Sign Language interpreters in crisis communication environments and interpreting emergency management messages during disasters. This Disaster Response Interpreter project trained 61 interpreters to assist at press conferences and in shelters to ensure effective communication for people who are deaf.

Functional Assessment Service Team (FAST) – OAFN, in collaboration with the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), Disaster Services Section and the American Red Cross, developed a Functional Assessment Service Team training program (FAST). The purpose of the FAST program is to provide staff to conduct a functional assessment of people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs as they arrive at shelters. FAST members identify essential functional needs for people who arein general population shelters. The FAST concept is in the state’s mass care and shelter plan. Currently training is at the local level for cities and counties interested in developing a local FAST program. The FAST concept may be integrated into a jurisdiction’s care and shelter plan. For more information click on the following link: http://www.cdss.ca.gov/dis/PG1909.htm

Evacuation/Transportation of People with Disabilities and Others with Access and Functional Needs - The goal of the project was to assist operational areas in identifying deficiencies in local planning and resources for the evacuation of people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs. Cal EMA contracted with a consultant to work with the interested counties in performing gap analysis in consultation with local government, state agencies, and nonprofit organizations and develop Evacuation/Transportation annexes. In addition, an evacuation/transportation plan template and accompanying DVD is available on the Cal EMA website. Seven counties participated: Kern, Tulare, Orange, Sacramento, Fresno, Imperial, and Yuba.

Equipment and Supplies - Purchased 3,000 accessible cots and durable medical equipment (e.g., wheelchairs, crutches, canes, shower chairs, raised toilet seats) to allow people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs to stay in general population shelters. These resources are at the local operational level.

Communication Equipment - Purchased communication tools and equipment to assemble 35 Communication Tool Kits. The kits include two Telephone Typewriter’s (TTY), laptop computers with built in webcam and software that allows remote interpreting, and interpreter boards. These communication tools enhance communications for the deaf/hard of hearing, and people who have speech impairments or cognitive disabilities, in shelters.

Grant Standards - In collaboration with the Cal EMA grants section, OAFN developed standards for grants to ensure access and functional needs are addressed. Beginning in FY 2009, Homeland Security Grant Program sub- grantees must provide the name, title, and contact information for their local person responsible for coordinating access and functional needs populations in planning, response, and recovery (including Evacuation, Mass Care and Shelter, Disaster Recovery, etc.) when conducting major planning projects. This population and their needs must be addressed in the planning documents.