Access & Functional Needs: Business

Special Needs

If you aren't sure whether your property or business is at risk from disasters, check with the Office of Emergency Management to obtain information and assistance on how you can be ready and resilient.

Often cited as a good business principle, businesses hire employees with “permanent” access and functional needs because of the skills and diversity they bring to the workplace. 

A factor that many businesses do not consider is the need to make sure emergency plans also include the possibility of employees being injured or disabled as a result of the incident.


  • Ensure that all employees have access to copies of emergency plans (multiple formats: e-copies, braille and large print).
  • Equal access to emergency alert systems (multiple systems).
  • Equal opportunity to comment on drills and exercises.


  • Conduct your emergency planning process following the principle of working with your employees, not for them. Employees with access and functional needs best know their ability to respond to an emergency.
  • Include all employees when conducting drill and exercises: do not tell employees and visitors in wheelchairs they can “wait out the exercise,” no one learns with that approach and it is demeaning to the individual.
  • Include all employees when conducting after event discussions or “hot wash.”
  • When developing emergency evacuation plans, include the employee in the discussion or planning process, remembering “nothing about us, without us.”


  • Include employees with access and functional needs as representatives on your emergency planning team as well as your continuity of operations team.
  • Include employees with access and functional needs on emergency sub-committees, including sheltering, transportation and communications.
  • If your emergency response process follows the Incident Command System as recommended by FEMA and the National Response Framework, be sure to include employees with access and functional needs on your command staff.

Related Information

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