160527 Universal Design: The All-Hazards Approach to Vulnerable Populations Planning

Monday, November 5, 2007

Charles K.T. Ishikawa, MSPH , Advanced Practice Center for Emergency Preparedness, Cambridge Public Health Department, Cambridge, MA
Garrett W. Simonsen, MSPS , Advanced Practice Center for Emergency Preparedness, Cambridge Public Health Department, Cambridge, MA
Barbara Ceconi, MSW , Access Umbrella, Inc., Brookline, MA
Kurt Kuss, MSW , Access Umbrella, Inc., Brookline, MA
The All-Hazards Planning Approach is a more efficient and effective way to prepare for emergencies. Rather than managing planning initiatives for a multitude of threat scenarios, All-Hazards Planning focuses on developing capacities and capabilities that are critical to preparedness for a full spectrum of emergencies or disasters. Similarly, Universal Design considers the needs of the widest possible array of end users. "Universal" implies that the planning, development, and implementation of programs, products, and services be intrinsically flexible to accommodate people with various levels of concentration, knowledge, and experience. The application of universal design principles in this context seeks to increase accessibility to emergency services for everyone, including those facing language barriers, or physical or cognitive impairments—so called vulnerable populations.

In 2006, the Cambridge Public Health Department Advanced Practice Center for Emergency Preparedness and Access Umbrella, Inc. utilized principles of Universal Design to address communication needs within a mass prophylaxis setting. Clinic signage and a communication tool for use by staff and volunteers were developed to facilitate clinic flow and client communications. Pictograms representing the clinic stations and screening and treatment concepts are used to communicate with a diverse population and reduce anxiety.

This model addresses concerns that exist within any population, including primary languages, literacy levels, and behavioral, cognitive, and physical disabilities. It has been tested through focus groups, in flu clinics, and during training of Medical Reserve Corps volunteers.

This session will guide participants through Universal Design as an efficient and effective way to plan for vulnerable populations.

Learning Objectives:
Develop an understanding of how the principles of Universal Design support efficient and equitable emergency planning for vulnerable populations. Describe specific applications of Universal Design in development of emergency mass prophylaxis operations. Identify strategies that improve access to preparedness and emergency communications for the majority of a community.

Keywords: Special Populations, Vulnerable Populations

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.