In addition to African Americans, people with disabilities were another group ill-served pre- and post-Katrina, noted Jamie L. Karam, a panelist at APA's 2006 Annual Convention and program director at the Louisiana Assistive Technology Access Network (LATAN).
In one tragic instance, said Karam, a relative of a co-worker drowned in her wheelchair as the flood waters engulfed her living room. Many of those who did escape Katrina had to leave behind technological aids for their disabilities-braïlle computer printers, voice-activated computers, visual telephone ringers and the like.
LATAN is now soliciting and providing evacuees with loaners for such needed equipment. Meanwhile, the agency is exploring ways to better alert people with disabilities of future emergencies. Some possibilities include loudspeaker announcements on buses, watches that vibrate, doorbells that flicker and emergency contingency plans tailored to people's particular disabilities.
"We need to be better prepared so we're not as devastated by any type of disaster that comes again," said Karam, who herself uses computer enlargement for a degenerative sight condition. "We don't want to forget anybody."
--B. Murray Law