Assistive Technology and Emergency Response

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Original Editors - Redisha Jakibanjar

Top Contributors - Redisha Jakibanjar, Naomi O'Reilly and Kim Jackson      


Emergency response[edit | edit source]

Emergency response is the phase of disaster management cycle which involves cyclic process of assessment, planning, action and review to respond accurately to needs and capacities as they evolve.[1]

Emergency assessment is needed in all phase of emergency to ensure effective action implementation. In acute emergencies, the assessment performed should be rapid and should produce important information. [1]


Use of assistive technology during emergency[edit | edit source]

Assistive technology refers to any device which helps you do what you need and helps to remain independent. There are various types of assistive technology needed on emergency response.


Following things should be considered while using assistive technology during disaster [1]:

  • The device should be reliable and standard.
  • Devices should be regularly checked and should always be kept in working condition.
  • The environment where the device is used should also be checked properly. For instance, road clearance, removing solid waste after the disaster.
  • If there are variety of options to choose, the device should be chosen based on the hazards caused by the disaster.

Older people using assistive technology and emergency situation[edit | edit source]

Compared to other age group, older people have variety of functional limitations due to physical and mental impairments. Hence older people who use assistive technology should be treated as people with disability during emergency response. Assistive technology work as a medium to overcome the limitations and carry out daily activities in easy and convenient way. During disaster or emergency, older people who use the assistive technology might face various problem receiving emergency services. The major barrier arises if the device is not in working state or the environment is not supportive for it's use. [4]

When the disaster arises, it might lead to loss of assistive technology and sometimes, it may stop functioning in proper way. For instance, power cut off may hamper devices which consume electricity, medications might be lost or medium to store medicines might get damaged and most importantly, some geographical areas might not be able to deliver notifications which directly impact people having sensory and communication limitations.[4]

The federal Emergency Management Agency(FEMA) has a framework named C-MIST and during emergency management for people with access and functional needs, this framework is followed. The framework stands for communication, maintaining health, independence, safety, support and self-determination and transportation. So according to this approach, if we are able to maintain communication devices and assistive technology for older people it helps to achieve independence and maintain health during disaster management. However, if the devices get lost or damaged, additional assistance might be needed to maintain their safety, right to self-determination in the amount, type and duration of the assistance that they require. Hence, information about the people using assistive technology, type of device and geographical situation should be noted prior. [4]


For the proper evacuation of older people with disability, few considerations should be made. The older people with disability should have proper access to shelter and should have facilities that allow to perform daily activities with ease. There are seven Principles of Access for people with access and function need. [4]They are[4]:

  • Equal access to programs and services
  • Physical access to locations of emergency programs and services
  • Access to effective communication and information
  • Inclusion of all individuals in emergency management programs and services
  • Access to effective communication and information
  • Integrated settings for emergency programs
  • Availability of modifications to meet the needs of individuals requiring special services, and no cost for access and use of these services

References [edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 World Health organization, Emergency response. Available from:
  2. FEMA. Assistive Technologies in Disaster Recovery Centers. Available from: [last accessed 08/09/2021]
  3. Disability Network Lakeshore. DNL Assistive Technologies. Available from: [last accessed 08/09/2021]
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 McSweeney-Feld MH. Assistive Technology and Older Adults in Disasters: Implications for Emergency Management. Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness. Cambridge University Press; 2017;11(1):135–9. Available from:
  5. Texas Center for Disability Studies. CMIST Framework. Available from: [last accessed 08/09/20221]