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Public Policy and Administration


Kevin Fandl


Disaster preparedness policy implementation in the United States inadequately integrates people with disabilities (PWDs), most tangibly at the local level, where PWDs do not face an equal chance for survival during disasters compared to those without disabilities. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to examine current disaster preparedness policies and procedures to identify whether local agencies are following existing laws and policies related to integration of PWDs in Orange and Riverside Counties of California. The study furthered understanding of emergency managers’ and planners’ approaches in coordinating local disaster actors and the impact of their attitudes on local preparedness practices integrating PWDs. The conceptual framework for this study drew on normative political theories, including the Jeffersonian, Hamiltonian, and Jacksonian approaches to disaster policy and management, the principal-agent theory, models of intergovernmental relations, and the concept of vulnerability. Data collection encompassed documentation analysis, questionnaires, and open-ended interviews with purposely-selected eighteen participants, including PWDs. Using within-case and cross-cases techniques to analyze data, findings revealed a disconnect between county emergency professionals providing preparedness services and PWD beneficiaries. Emergency managers and the PWD community who contributed in this study offered differing perceptions of disaster preparedness plans and activities. The study affects social change by linking existing disaster preparedness plans and PWDs, improving emergency managers’ mindfulness of the diversity and susceptibilities of PWDs, and promoting that the goal of properly integrating PWDs in preparedness plan and activity is attainable.