Purpose of OAFN
In January 2008, the Office for Access and Functional Needs (OAFN) was created within the California Emergency Management Agency (then Office of Emergency Services). The purpose of OAFN 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 all aspects of emergency management systems.
According to the U.S. Census of 2000, there are approximately six million Californians over the age of five years who identify as having a disability. OAFN was created to strengthen the method and planning of emergency management for people with disabilities.
Guidance Document - OAFN developed a guidance document for integrating the needs of people with disabilities and other access and functional needs into emergency management. The document, “Guidance on Planning and Responding to the Needs of People with Access and Functional Needs” is available on the Cal EMA website.
Certificate of Training Course for Sign-Language Interpreters – OAFN, in collaboration with NorCal Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, developed a course to train 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 be deployed to shelters if needed 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 course to make operational Functional Assessment Service Teams (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 to identify the essential functional needs that can be supported within the general population shelter. Training was provided at the state level for the development of State FAST teams. The FAST concept is being incorporated into the state mass care and shelter plan. Currently training is being provided at the local level for jurisdictions, both counties and some cities, which are interested in developing a local FAST program. The FAST concept could then be integrated into a jurisdiction’s care and shelter plan.
Evacuation/Transportation of People with Disabilities and Older Adults - This project was initially developed in Fiscal Year 2008/09. The goal of the project was to assist interested operational areas in identifying deficiencies in local planning and resources for the evacuation of people with access and functional needs. Cal EMA contracted with a consultant to work with the interested counties in performing gap analyses in consultation with local government, state agencies and non-profit organizations that provide services to people with disabilities and older adults, and develop Evacuation/Transportation annexes. In addition, an evacuation/ transportation plan template and accompanying DVD was developed and is available on the Cal EMA website. During FYs 08/09 and 09/10, seven counties participated: Kern, Tulare, Orange, Sacramento, Fresno, Imperial and Yuba.
Equipment and Supplies - Purchased 3,000 accessible cots and durable medical equipment (i.e., wheelchairs, crutches, canes, shower chairs, raised toilet seats) to allow people with access and functional needs to be sheltered in general population shelters.
Communication Equipment - Purchased communication tools and equipment to assemble thirty-five Communication Tool Kits. The kits include two Telephone Typewriter’s (TTY), laptop computer with built in webcam & software that allows remote interpreting, and interpreter boards. These communication tools will enhance communications with people who are deaf/hard of hearing, have speech impairments or cognitive disabilities, in shelters.
Grant Standards - In collaboration with the Cal EMA grants section, developed standards for all grants to ensure access and functional needs are addressed. Beginning in FY 2009, Homeland Security Grant Program sub grantees are required to provide the name, title and contact information for their local person responsible for coordinating access and functional needs of these populations in planning, response and recovery, and address access and functional needs within their planning documents (including but not limited to Evacuation, Mass Care and Shelter, Disaster Recovery, etc.) when conducting major planning projects