People with Disabilities and Disasters
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Investigations have collectively established that disasters affect people with disabilities both disproportionately and negatively. Relevant research is reviewed by academic genesis areas in this chapter, namely; 1) disaster-focused research, 2) mental health, 3) epidemiology and public health, and 4) disability studies. However, research emanating from these disciplines reflects different epistemological assumptions about disability as well as varying knowledge about disability as a social and cultural construct. As such, this fragmented research has yet to coalesce into a coherent theory of how disasters affect people with disabilities. Scholars from the field of disability studies note that perceived disability status is often associated with stigma, creating a separate and unique barrier across societies and cultures, which can augment disaster vulnerability. An important element in reforming practice is ensuring people with disabilities can be active participants in their own preparedness, disaster risk reduction, disaster response, and disaster recovery.