Feature Issue on Crisis Management for People with Intellectual, Developmental, and Other Disabilities

From the Editors

As we finalize this issue of Impact, we find ourselves in situations we consider far from “normal.”

Like the rest of the world, we are still reeling from disaster upon disaster, from global pandemic to a reckoning on systemic racism.

We also know that people who come from diverse backgrounds have likely felt the effects of the disasters more intensely and tragically. Specifically, we know that the disability community – from people with disabilities and their families to their direct support professionals (DSPs) and others who work in the field – have witnessed or experienced profound suffering.

In this issue, we shine a light on the disparities that have resulted in people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) contracting and dying from COVID-19 at higher rates than the overall population; being left behind in education; being absent from crisis response planning.

You’ll meet Carlos Kaiser, a person with disabilities who founded an inclusive disaster risk preparedness organization, almost literally in the wake of a tsunami. You’ll hear how Liliana Mayo of Perú maintained and even expanded training for people with disabilities and their families during the pandemic, and read articles about the long aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, California wildfires, and the endosulfan disaster in India. You’ll read a heart-wrenching essay by a longtime disability community leader, Kim Keprios, on the loss of her brother Mike, who died from COVID-19 in May 2020.

As always, you’ll hear from people with IDD themselves on how they are coping with these disasters, and from experienced researchers and policy experts on tips for emergency preparedness and thoughtful ways to improve how we respond to crises in the future.

We challenge you to share this issue widely, within and outside the IDD community, and help us start a real conversation about moving forward, together.