About the Partnership


The mission of the Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies (the Partnership) is equal access and full inclusion for the whole community before, during and after disasters.

The Partnership was established to identify and bridge gaps, increase sustainable relationships and grow the number of emergency preparedness actors committed to inclusive emergency management. The partnership offers grassroots solutions and supports to keep expanding disability stakeholder participation to improve the quality and capacity of local leadership to achieve universal accessibility, equal access and full inclusion throughout emergency preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation.

Partnerships between disability community leaders and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have been forged over the past eight years after unmet needs in emergencies over the past couple of decades resulted in legal, regulatory and humanitarian focus on equal access, full inclusion and reasonable modification. Relief efforts after hurricane Katrina and an increase in disasters due to climate change intertwined with higher rates of people with disability civil rights protections living independently in the community brought people together to better address equal access and inclusion issues before, during and after disasters.

This need for collaboration led to the formation of Portlight Strategies to strengthen the relationship between disability community leadership, FEMA, emergency managers and whole community stakeholders. In addition to real-time disaster relief throughout dozens of domestic and global disasters, Portlight has prioritized training, technical assistance and holding emergency responders and the Red Cross more accountable to their obligation to provide equal access and reasonable modifications throughout their emergency and disaster programs and services under laws that include the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act, the Rehabilitation Act, the Stafford Act and the U.S. Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision.

Accessibility shortfalls have become increasingly clear in the need to shelter people with equal access and integrity, ensuring that the access and functional and health maintenance needs of disaster survivors are met, as well as providing consistent and accessible transportation and effective, accessible and actionable communications. To address these important requirements for emergency preparedness and disaster planning, there must be a more robust and accountable relationship between local, state and federal emergency management, grassroots actors and organizational leaders.

This can be accomplished through development of state and local disability inclusive emergency management coalitions led by disability leaders and emergency managers committed to jointly establishing goals and objectives, measuring results, identifying gaps, acquiring and adopting promising practices and implementing mutually beneficial protocols for individual and community preparedness and planning, and equal access throughout disaster response, recovery and mitigation.

There is an immediate need to fill capacity gaps with knowledgeable and committed individuals connected through sustainable local, state and national coalitions, ready and able to respond to the needs of the whole community during emergencies. It is in the best interest of disability organizations, governmental and non-governmental entities and their communities to foster long-term relationships for on-going and reciprocal support and resources.

Who Are We?

The Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies (PIDS) is a growing national coalition, assessing the current state of disaster planning across the country, and identifying ways disability community leaders can assertively engage with emergency management at every level. This includes advocating for full inclusion at the planning table, in all disaster cycle services and in achieving universal accessibility throughout preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation. The Partnership is committed to improving individual, family and community emergency preparedness, facilitating the involvement of stakeholder organizations, developing and implementing strategies for universal accessibility and measuring outcomes to drive progress. We are committed to increasing individual and community capacity for achieving equal access and full inclusion of people with disabilities and others who also have access and functional needs for optimal preparedness and support when disaster strikes. In all aspects of disaster planning and emergency preparedness, the Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies is committed to unifying and amplifying the voices of our Partners into one powerful force.

Goals & Objectives

The main goal of the Partnership is to mobilize our shared commitment to whole community inclusive emergency management , thereby maximizing community capacity and effectiveness.

Members represent the disability community at all levels of governmental and non-governmental meetings: neighborhood forums, city and town councils, state and federal legislative hearings, emergency management agency public meetings, exercises and events held by state and national associations for emergency managers, first responders and providers of emergency management training and education.

The Partnership is committed to expanding capacity for achieving accessibility by the American Red Cross and other disaster response organizations, including faith-based entities, transportation, housing and health maintenance providers .

Interacting with Centers for Independent Living and other local disability and stakeholder advocacy and service organizations, the Partnership will seek to improve the network's capacity for responding effectively to disaster survivors in their communities, regardless of their affiliation prior to the disaster.


Stakeholder organizations and individuals actively involved or interested in inclusive disaster planning and emergency preparedness for people with disabilities and others who also have access and functional needs (older adults, people with limited English proficiency or low literacy, people with temporary health conditions, pregnant women, etc.).

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