ADA National Network/FEMA Webinar Series: Emergency Management and Preparedness-Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities

Schedule 2015-16

These 90 minute webinars are delivered by the Pacific ADA Center using the Blackboard Collaborate webinar platform. All sessions will be captioned, recorded and archived.

This program is delivered via both webinar platform and via telephone (additional charges may apply). Real-time captioning is available via the webinar platform.

Webinars begin at ET: 2.30pm, CT: 1.30pm, MT:12.30pm, PT:11.30am, Hawaii: 8.30am.

FEMA Promising Practice: Strategies for Effective Communication with People who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing in Emergencies

14th July, 2016

Registration for this webinar is not yet open.

This presentation will provide two examples of practices for effective communications with people with disabilities in emergencies. The first is a partnership between Center for Public Safety Innovation at St. Petersburg College and the State of Florida to provide a course entitled Effective Strategies for Communicating With People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing and Other Access and Functional Needs. Speakers will provide an overview of objectives and course content, as well as discuss the interactions and the purpose of this training as a face-to-face workshop instead of distance learning and why.

In the second half of the webinar, staff from the New York City Office of Emergency Management will cover their emergency outreach efforts to persons who are deaf and/or hard of hearing. Staff will review the policy and cost considerations, production tips, and operational procedures that were used to produce and embed approximately 80 signed videos into Notify NYC — the City's free, official source of information about emergency events and important City services. Initial videos were taped with an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter and the agency has moved to production with a Certified Deaf Interpreter (CDI). The City has also prioritized the use of a CDI whenever the Mayor or Commissioner of Emergency Management is providing key emergency messages to the public during an emergency activation.

Learning objectives:

  • Explain the importance of effective communication for people who are deaf or hard of hearing and other access and functional needs.
  • Describe the various sub-groups of people who are deaf or hard of hearing, including their communication needs.
  • Outline the partnership between the State of Florida and St. Petersburg College to efficiently deliver the workshop for: Effective Strategies for Communicating With People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing and Other Access and Functional Needs.
  • Understand the difference between an ASL and CDI interpreter and the decision-making process of when to utilize each in emergency planning to outreach to the deaf and hard of hearing communities.
  • Learn the production process and operating protocol used by a local government to incorporate video and audio recordings into emergency notifications well in advance of an emergency.


Chris Littlewood is an Instructional Technology Coordinator with the Center for Public Safety Innovation at St. Petersburg College. He has more than twenty years of experience as both an instructional designer and public safety educator. As a self-advocate for people with disabilities, Mr. Littlewood uses his law enforcement and emergency responder experiences in training and providing subject matter expertise in the area of inclusive emergency planning and preparedness for people with access and functional needs and disabilities.

Carole Lazorisak is a tenured, retired college professor who has taught Human Services, American Sign Language, and Sociology and Interpreter Education courses in New York City. She currently works as a Master Mentor, a certified ASL instructor, certified Deaf interpreter, interpreter trainer, and workshop facilitator. Carole uses her public safety experience, knowledge of the ADA and accessibility laws, vocational rehabilitation and disability studies, and her mental health training to enhance her work as a trainer and as an interpreter.


11th August, 2016

FEMA Promising Practices: Fire preparedness and Post-Disaster Accessibility Issues in the Home

8th September, 2016

This webinar will have two presentations that look at preparedness and accessibility issues in the home. Home Fire Safety Solutions for People with Disabilities installs smoke alarms, alert devices and delivers home fire safety educational messages that meet the needs of people with disabilities in Oklahoma. The key components of this successful program will be presented by project managers.

Elevations make salient many concerns for accessibility and universal design that compliment current needs of a population that age in place. It becomes a design professional's charge as educator and “expert” to encourage the resident to plan for accessibility for themselves, their visitors, and for any future inhabitants, all over the course of both their lives and the life of the home. The series will address all audiences that play a role in promoting accessibility through the lens of design, from the client to the architect to the local jurisdiction.

Learning objectives:

  • Determine the selection and installation of appropriate smoke alarms and alert devices that meet the needs of people with disabilities according to the National Fire Alarm Code.
  • Describe the components of a successful home visit program to install smoke alarms, alert devices and deliver fire and life safety educational messages to serve people with disabilities.
  • Discuss the value of community partnerships to plan and implement a home fire safety project to meet the needs of people with disabilities.
  • Identify resources available to replicate the Oklahoma program in your location.
  • Provide universal design tenets.
  • Understand, in order to overcome, obstacles to accessibility in a post-disaster environment, including financial, policy, zoning, and building code hindrances.
  • Learn how to communicate effectively with all actors in the accessibility discussion as a design professional with the obligation to advocate for universal design.


Milissa Gofourth is a Program Manager of Oklahoma ABLE Tech and has been with the sponsored program housed at Oklahoma State University, Seretean Wellness Center since 1996. Milissa advocates and promotes public policy that will enable individuals with all types of disabilities of all ages to access and acquire assistive technology. Milissa provides the assistive technology and disability related materials for training and information dissemination for the “Fire Safety Solutions for Oklahomans with Disabilities” project.

Nancy J. Trench is recognized nationally as a leader in fire and life safety education. Mrs. Trench is the Assistant Director for Research for Fire Protection Publications, the publisher of IFSTA training materials, at Oklahoma State University where she has worked for more than 35 years. She is an expert in the design, implementation and evaluation of fire and life safety education programs, including programs for young children and people with disabilities. Mrs. Trench received the second annual Dr. Anne W. Phillips Award for Leadership in Fire Safety Education from The Home Safety Council in 2008. Nancy is active with Vision 20/20, National Strategies for Fire Loss Prevention.

Brian Baer is a licensed architect with 27 years of experience implementing sustainable, community-aided design solutions for educational, cultural, civic and non-governmental agency projects across the United States. Mr. Baer is a licensed architect in several states and is a LEED accredited professional (awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council) and certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). Before forming The Elevated Studio, Inc. and serving as the Executive Director, Mr. Baer was the Regional Program Manager of the New York office of Architecture for Humanity, LLC, an international charity. In that capacity, Mr. Baer did disaster relief and preparedness work and advocacy including managing the organization's New York City office for the regional response to Hurricane Sandy reconstruction throughout the metropolitan New York City region. Mr. Baer has practiced as an architect in Washington, D.C., Seattle, Boston and New York.

Lila Tedesco is an architectural designer in the process of licensure. Over her career, she has integrated a dedication to human rights into design, sustainability, and disaster recovery. She has worked with both local and international nonprofits to coordinate builds with communities and student groups. Before becoming Director of Programs for The Elevated Studio, Inc., Ms. Tedesco worked for the New York office of Architecture for Humanity, LLC.