A green and white sign reads exit in Spanish and points to an outdoor staircase between buildings in Lima

Accessible information can save lives during emergency

People with disabilities, older people and indigenous communities are often excluded from disaster risk reduction strategies on preventing and responding to emergencies such as earthquakes and tsunamis. But by making some small adjustments—like adding subtitles or using contrasting colors on signage and informational materials—we can ensure no one is left behind when disaster strikes.

Kipu Llaxta, an organization in Peru that works to advance the inclusion of people with disabilities, is working with Humanity & Inclusion to improve a national disaster risk reduction campaign. Among the simple measures it recommends are:

  • Include the organizations run by and for people with disabilities and their representatives in disseminating information through their networks
  • Translate awareness-raising videos into sign language and add subtitles
  • Increase the size of text on posters and fliers
  • Use contrasting colors to enhance the legibility of information
  • Use multiple formats: visual, audio, text and illustrations
  • Disseminate communication campaigns on national media to reach the whole population

As a result of these recommendations, families and people with disabilities were noticeably more likely to take part in disaster risk reduction actions.

Bringing about lasting change

Psychologist Giovanna Osorio Romero, the chair and co-founder of Kipu Llaxta, has a physical disability caused by a rare disease.

“Kipu Llaxta decided to address the issue of disaster risk management in Peru to make it more inclusive," she explains. "With support from Humanity & Inclusion, we have trained ourselves in risk management and gained expertise."

"By making simple adjustments, Peru's 2021 communication campaign was much more accessible, and people were better able to understand prevention messages," Romero adds. "This proves that inclusion benefits society as a whole and not just a small group of people. We are working hard to bring about lasting change and to challenge stereotypes.” 

Prevention measures and disaster response must take into account the specific needs of populations disproportionately affected by emergencies: people with disabilities, aging people, women, children. Humanity & Inclusion supports organizations run by and for people with disabilities—like Kipu Llaxta—to uplift their voices and ensure inclusive humanitarian action. The organization will draw attention to this commitment at the 2022 Global Disability Summit in February.

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