In an effort to improve emergency response for individuals with disabilities, the Federal Emergency Management Agency reached out to Colorado Springs-based The Independence Center for assistance in communicating and synchronizing leaders within the states’ disability community.

The Independence Center and other agencies in the state are examining what worked during the floods, which areas need improvement and how to prepare better for future incidents that affect people with disabilities.

“No one ever wants to see the state they live in be affected by any type of natural disaster, but it’s important to be prepared,” said Nick DeSutter, emergency preparedness coordinator for the center, in a press release. “Our model centers around communication and is designed to support people with disabilities and make sure they’re informed.”

The center, which has three offices and serves eight counties in Colorado, seeks to empower people with disabilities through services such as peer support, home health care and access to assistive technology.

In El Paso County, 11.2 percent, or more than 70,000 people, have a disability, according to the Independence Center’s website.

“What we learned from this experience is how to quickly align centers for independent living and disability agencies at large, while communicating within a region to immediately target real-time accessibility barriers,” DeSutter said.

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FEMA’s Disability Integration and Coordination office coordinates emergency preparedness, response and recovery for children and adults with disabilities before, during and after a disaster.

Visit The Independence Center’s website for more information.



  1. Brief article, perhaps one day more details will be included. Best part about this article by Ms. Tonn is the usage of People First Language and not utilizeing diminishing words like “disabled””crippled” or “handicap”.
    I am deaf, I have A disability, not disabled.
    Happy trails and keep up the great work!
    Folks, get yourself prepared for any possible disasters!

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