Providing an emergency shelter that is accessible to people with disabilities involves making sure that a number of accessible features and spaces are available. To verify accessibility before deciding on a site for an emergency shelter can involve asking many questions such as those in the ADA Checklist for Emergency Shelters. For some older buildings, especially those on hilly sites and those that have not been renovated, remodeled, or altered since 1992, before completing the detailed checklist, it may be better to do a pre-test that can rule out a facility with major accessibility problems so available resources can be focused on other locations. The following questions will help evaluate whether a facility has such major accessibility barriers. After this first step, buildings that do not have major accessibility problems should be surveyed more thoroughly, using the ADA Checklist for Emergency Shelters, to find out which, if any, barriers need to be removed to provide an accessible shelter.
If you find barriers to accessibility after completing the checklist, the next step is to either remove the barriers or identify other nearby accessible facilities that can serve as a shelter. In communities with more than one emergency shelter, until all shelters are accessible, the locations of accessible shelters should be widely publicized, particularly to people with disabilities and organizations that serve the disability community.
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The following Quick-Check Survey (beginning on page 7) and the ADA Checklist for Emergency Shelters (beginning on page 11) are designed to assist State and local officials and operators of emergency shelters to determine whether a facility being considered for use as an emergency shelter is accessible and if not, whether modifications are needed to remove barriers or whether relocation to another accessible facility is necessary. Filling out the Quick-Check Survey will provide guidance on whether a facility has certain basic accessible features, and filling out the detailed ADA Checklist for Emergency Shelters will provide specific information on any barriers to accessibility.