As if battling a pandemic wasn’t enough, extreme weather and fires are ravaging many communities already exhausted and surviving on stretched resources. It goes without saying that in the wake of recent disasters, working together to support one another—especially those most vulnerable—is critical.
The AT3 Center reached out to Assistive Technology (AT) Act Program directors in areas impacted by recent disasters to learn of needs for durable medical equipment (DME) and other AT that device reutilization programs might help replace.
Christina Mills, Director of Ability Tools (the AT Act Program in California), responded with a unique request and a powerful way individuals anywhere might help:
If you’d like to contribute to those in California who have be impacted by the wildfires and have lost their AT/DME, you can do so through our Richard Devylder Disaster Relief Fund. The fund is completely supported by individual donations and company sponsorship. We’ve been successful in keeping it at a healthy level to meet the needs of community members, but we did receive a request for a prosthetic arm and unfortunately the individual who lost it had just received it after jumping through many health care hoops. We are hoping we can get it replaced faster than it originally took to get.
The CA Foundation for Independent Living Centers established the Richard Devylder Disaster Relief Fund in 2017 in memory of Richard Devylder’s commitment to the disability community. Richard Devylder was a former CIL Director in California who became CA’s first Access and Functional Needs Director at the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (and went on to be appointed by President Obama to assist in leading the US Department of Transportation). Sadly, Richard passed away in 2015. Christina Mills shares with us this incredible 12-minute video about Richard and how he used AT to live independently.
In the context of this post, the video serves as a powerful reminder that for many AT users disaster recovery is often a matter of regaining essential independence.
Another way to assist individuals with disabilities before and after disasters is to make a donation to The Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies, “The only US disability-led organization with a focused mission on equal access, disability rights and full inclusion of people with disabilities, older adults, and people with access and functional needs before, during, and after disasters and emergencies” (from The Partnership’s homepage). Donation information specific to Hurricane Ida may be found at this KALB in Louisiana webpage.
If you are in need of replacement durable medical equipment or assistive technology, your State or Territory AT Act Program is a resource for finding equipment for short-term loan and for acquiring gently-used durable medical equipment. Find your State or Territory AT Act Program.