Disability Justice is a disability Civil rights nonprofit.  We advocate the civil rights guaranteed by the Constitution, and the Americans With Disabilities Act.


Here are 3 simple things you can do at home.  ASL interpreters make people with hearing loss safer.

  1. Watch TV for ASL interpreters and closed captions. You make sure emergency information on tv is done right.
  2. Ask your local government about the emergency plans for people with disabilities.  Do they have a plan?
  3. Search your state and local government websites.  Are they accessible?

You don’t have democracy when some people are excluded.

Does the tv or cable channel have closed captions?  Does the official announcing COVID-19 progress have an ASL interpreter?

The FCC requires accessible emergency information.  But not all tv/cable channels do it.  Are there closed captions?  Is there an ASL interpreter?  I saw an ASL interpreter at announcements by the  Mayors of Chicago and of Los Angeles and the Governor of Georgia.

Do officials have ASL interpreters or closed captions?  Report who, channel, date, time, and event.  Let’s thank the tv channels and officials who have closed captions and/or ASL interpreters.  We will post the successes and failures on our website.


These web sites have more information about what accessible emergency information means:

You don’t have a democracy when some people are excluded.



Emergency Plans

We already know that state and local emergency plans often do not include people with disabilities.   The most recent annual report from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) dropped all mention of people with disabilities.

This means that FEMA no longer gives direction to state and local governments about the best ways to plan to keep people with disabilities safe and alive.   So, each one of us must do it.

Remember, people who cannot hear police commands can get badly hurt.  People with a broken leg cannot use stairs.  People with breathing problems cannot move quickly. 

Emergency management functions of government kick in for events like flooding, tornados, pandemics, and toxic waste spills.

The plan must cover people with all disabilities: deafness, blindness, using mobility aids like crutches, canes, wheelchairs, oxygen tanks  . . . is this a written plan?  Ask for a copy or an online link to the document.  Tell us what you find – or don’t find.

You don’t have democracy when some people are excluded.


Websites are another problem.

A job hunter searched the State of Wisconsin department websites.  Madison tv, channel3000, reports that she located at least 40 that are not accessible.  This was only a month ago.

Why are the State of Wisconsin websites still not accessible?  Now is a good time to dig through every State of Wisconsin department website for accessibility.  Check the websites for your state and local governments.  There is no excuse for Wisconsin or any other government to ignore the Americans with Disabilities Act and the civil rights it guarantees.   Tell us what you find.

What does an accessible website look like?  The Web Accessibility Initiative has an excellent introduction.  There is an on-going discussion with suggestions.  You do not have to be a techie to enjoy this.

You don’t have a democracy when some people are excluded.


Photo:  K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash