Call for Code 2019: Mitigating disaster risks for vulnerable populations

by Michael Gower: For More Info, Go Here…

When the tsunami hit Japan in 2011, people with disabilities died at twice the rate of the larger population. Some of them couldn’t hear the early warning system. Some of them couldn’t evacuate to higher ground.

That kind of heightened risk exists any time a disaster occurs, with fatalities likely up to four times the non-disabled population. According to a 2013 report from the UN, “people living with disabilities across the world say they are rarely consulted about their needs and only 20 percent could evacuate immediately without difficulty in the event of a sudden disaster event, the remainder could only do so with a degree of difficulty and 6 percent would not be able to do so at all.”

The increased risk doesn’t cease when a natural disaster stops. In the aftermath of disasters, individuals with disabilities are significantly more affected by the loss of infrastructure. They are also more likely to have issues consuming the support information coming from government and aid organizations. Broadcasts may not be subtitled. Printed material may not be available electronically.

The impact of a disaster is long lasting, too. Seven years after the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, 75,000 of the people evacuated had yet to return home, with a third of these still living in temporary housing.

Last year, IBM and the David Clark Cause launched the Call for Code Global Challenge to help mitigate the effects of disasters. This multi-year initiative asks developers to create technology-based solutions that help communities prepare for and recover from natural disasters. In 2018, more than 100,000 developers across 156 nations answered the call.

This year’s Call for Code has an emphasis on individual and community well-being, with a focus on vulnerable populations. The United Nations and the World Health Organization have recognized the heightened challenges that people with disabilities face in emergency situations. They also have some key advice for how to ensure no one gets left behind. With today marking the eighth Global Accessibility Awareness Day, it is a good reminder how individuals with disabilities are disproportionately affected by natural disasters and how developers participating in Call for Code can think of ways to decrease these staggering statistics.

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