Emergency preparedness planning and; policy and vulnerable populations in public schools: a literature analysis
Brandon, Brook Estelle
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The U.S. disability population is growing at significant rates among adults as well as youth. According to the 2000 Current Population Reports, approximately 54 million Americans about 1 in 5 - are affected by the presence of a disability stemming from birth or life incident. Demographic increases are also noted among American youth as well, with one in 166 children is diagnosed with autism - estimated 67 children each day. Consequently, there have been federal-level responses in the form of legislation, executive orders and local-level program flinding such as REMS grants - addressing various disability issues. Likewise in recent years, another critically important matter has emerged with increasing priority on the nation s policy agenda: school emergency preparedness planning. A broad spectrum of crises incidents, ranging from student-initiated assaults to natural or man-made disasters, has become a well-documented reality where schools have experienced tragic impacts sometimes as severe as mass casualties These occurrences, coupled with an expected increase in potential evacuees with special needs, demonstrate the critical need for inclusive school evacuation planning at all levels of administration that actively considers its impact on vulnerable populations. This is of particular importance to public schools today; the presence of disabled students can be deduced from U.S. Census and NOES statistics while studies conducted by Georgia Tech s Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA) illustrate the presence of teachers with disabilities. As the scope of interest in this field expands, the availability of related literature becomes more prevalent as well. While disability preparedness planning in schools is briefly mentioned in some articles and reports on emergency preparedness in general, it has yet to be the sole focus of one to date. Policymakers and practitioners in preparedness planning would likely benefit by broadening to its literature scope to include research that focuses solely on analyzing policy strategies and processes used in school emergency preparedness planning for students and teachers with disabilities. Therefore, this thesis project will compile available related literature into a topology in aimotated bibliography form through the lens of disability preparedness planning and policy in public schools. The research goal is to provide a qualitative assessment of available literature in the form of a reference guide of strategies and recommendations on disability preparedness, specifically intended for public school settings. Additionally, this compilation will outline the rationale supporting a more inclusive policy and planning formulation processes that actively engage the needs students and teachers with disabilities prior to the implementation stage.