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University Relations

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October 10, 2005
Contact: Karen Salisbury Henry, Schiefelbusch Life Span Institute, (785) 864-0756.

KU researchers receive federal grant to extend disaster research

LAWRENCE -- A University of Kansas research group that investigates how people with limited mobility and other disabilities fare in disasters has been tapped by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research to assess the impact of Hurricane Katrina on people with disabilities.

The Research and Training Center for Independent Living (RTC/IL) will examine the experiences of emergency managers and the staffs of centers for independent living in meeting the needs of people with disabilities before, during and after Hurricane Katrina.

Centers for independent living (CILs), such as Lawrence's Independence Inc., are nonresidential, private, nonprofit organizations that provide core services and advocate for people with all types of disabilities on issues such as access to housing, employment, transportation, health and social services.

"CILs are typically not prepared to offer emergency service and relief," said Glen White, RTC/IL director. "But now many centers in Gulf Coast states find themselves in that role and are overwhelmed trying to provide services for thousands of Katrina evacuees."


The one-year federal $162,000 grant will focus on several counties directly affected by Katrina as well as adjoining relocation areas.

" The goal of this study is to collect empirical data that will guide future policies regarding disaster preparedness and emergency response for people with disabilities," said White.

The study will extend the work of RTC/IL's earlier Nobody Left Behind study that investigated a random sample of 30 U.S. federal disaster sites to determine if disaster plans and emergency response systems included the needs of individuals with mobility impairments.

A series of reports from this study will be released beginning this month at www.rtcil.org/findings.htm.

Archives of the experiences of survivors with mobility limitations are at www.nobodyleftbehind2.org.

White will co-direct the Hurricane Katrina study with Michael Fox, associate professor of health policy and management, and Tony Cahill, director of the Center For Development and Disability at the University of New Mexico.

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The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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