Bring Down Barriers
This Digital Media Toolkit suggests ways people can bring down barriers to emergency preparedness and response. This emphasis builds on previous #PrepYourHealth social media content to bring additional focus to the needs of all populations affected by disasters.
Long-standing systemic and social inequities have created health disparities that put many people, including people with disabilities and from racial and ethnic minority groups, at increased risk during and after disasters.
Health disparities can result from inequities in living, working, health, and social conditions. These conditions can isolate people from the resources, supplies, and services they need to prepare for and respond to natural disasters, disease outbreaks, and other emergencies.
This toolkit suggests ways people can work together to reduce and remove barriers to emergency preparedness and response. Emergency preparedness and response equity occurs when everyone can be as prepared as possible.
Common Barriers to Participation
People face challenges that can make it difficult or impossible for them to prepare for, respond to, and recover from an emergency. Often, more than one barrier occurs at a time. Some of the most common are communication barriers, programmatic barriers, social barriers, and transportation barriers. Bringing down these barriers requires the whole community to work together.
Communication barriers can be experienced by different populations of people. They include people who have limited English proficiency; people who live with disabilities that affect hearing, vision, speaking, reading, writing, or understanding; and people who use non-verbal communication. Examples of communication barriers include:
- Information products that are neither Section 508 compliant nor accessible to persons with disabilities
- Videos without captions
- Media briefings and community meetings without sign language interpretation and real-time captioning
- Information and products delivered in a manner that is not culturally or linguistically appropriate for the intended audience
- Information that isn’t written in plain language or available in multiple languages and alternate formats
- Misinformation and rumor
- Web designers: Create webpages that are accessible:
- Add descriptive alternative (alt) text to images
- Caption social media & web video
- Use headings to break up text
- Write in plain language
More: https://www.section508.gov/blog/making-agency-communications-accessible-everyone #PrepYourHealth #BringDownBarriers
- Age, education level, race/ethnicity, disability status, language proficiency, & other factors can influence a person’s health literacy. Low health literacy can make it difficult to understand & use info to make good #PrepYourHealth decisions. Learn more: https://www.cdc.gov/healthliteracy/learn/index.html
- Health communicators: Help #BringDownBarriers to accessible risk info. Publish info in multiple languages & alternate formats like braille & simplified text. Learn about @CDCgov’s work with @CIDIaccess to #ImproveAccess to #COVID19 info: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/easy-to-read/index.html #PrepYourHealth
- #BringDownBarriers to #emergency communication: Have sign language interpreters & live captioners at community meetings & media briefings. Learn how @AzEIN’s ERIC program was started to #ImproveAccess to response info during wildfires: https://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2018/08/eric/ #PrepYourHealth
- Vet information you find online. Misinformation & rumor can be barriers to emergency preparedness & response. Is your info from a credible source? @CDCgov info about #COVID19 is based on peer-reviewed science. Learn more: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/evalwebs.htm #PrepYourHealth #BringDownBarriers
Bringing down barriers to information can be easy. There are 4 main ways to design webpages that are accessible for everyone:
- Add descriptive alternative (alt) text to images
- Caption social media and web video
- Use headings to break up text
- Write in plain language
Learn how: https://www.section508.gov/blog/making-agency-communications-accessible-everyone #PrepYourHealth #BringDownBarriers
- During an emergency, the right message, from the right person, at the right time can save lives. But only if people can find, understand, and use the information. Develop materials that are easy to read. Translate them to multiple languages including American Sign Language, and publish in alternate formats like braille, large print, and simplified text. Learn about @CDC’s work with @CIDIaccess to create accessible #COVID19 resources: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/easy-to-read/index.html #PrepYourHealth #BringDownBarriers
- It is critical that everyone has access to information in real time during emergencies. Livestream community meetings and response briefings for people who can’t attend in person. Have live captioners and sign language interpreters at the events and in full view of the camera. Learn how @AzEIN’s ERIC program was started to improve access to emergency information during the Arizona wildfires: https://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2018/08/eric/ #PrepYourHealth #BringDownBarriers
- Simply Put: A Guide for Creating Easy-to-Understand Materials
- COVID-19 Accessible Resources
- Health Literacy: Understand Your Audience
- Public Health Matters: Arizona’s ERIC Program Works to Improve Access to Emergency Information
- Accessibility for Teams
- Improving the Accessibility of Social Media in Government
Programmatic barriers limit the effective delivery of a public health or healthcare program for people with different types of disabilities and social needs. Examples of programmatic barriers include:
- Scheduling or registration processes that are inconvenient or inaccessible for some people
- Unpredictable work hours or unemployment
- Little, inappropriate, or no communication with disproportionately affected communities
- Access to & understanding of technology can be barriers to receiving timely emergency info. Emergency planners: Help #BringDownBarriers by having multiple ways to communicate with your community in an emergency. More: https://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2020/08/national-radio-day/ #PrepYourHealth
- Section 508 helps most people with disabilities have access to info on government websites. Report accessibility issues to help #BringDownBarriers. Report problems with @CDCgov at https://www.cdc.gov/contact/accessibility.html #PrepYourHealth
- Emergency planners: Learn more about your community & understand people’s personal health needs before an emergency. Use tools like CASPER surveys & technologies like @HHSgov emPOWER. https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/casper/default.htm #PrepYourHealth #BringDownBarriers
- When friends, family, or neighbors decide to get a #COVID19 vaccine, help #BringDownBarriers to them getting vaccinated. Offer to make their appointment, give them a ride, or babysit. More: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/talk-about-vaccines.html #PrepYourHealth
- Access to child care & transportation can affect people’s ability to prepare & respond to emergencies. #BringDownBarriers to acting on health decisions, like getting a #COVID19 vaccine. See services available to help you #SleeveUp: https://www.vaccines.gov/incentives.html #PrepYourHealth
- Members of racial & ethnic minority groups & people with disabilities may be disproportionately affected by an emergency. Involve these communities in the emergency planning process to identify how to #BringDownBarriers. More: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandhealth/emergencypreparedness.html #PrepYourHealth
- The right message at the right time can save lives. But only if it’s received. Access to and understanding of technology can be barriers to receiving timely emergency information. Emergency planners: Help #BringDownBarriers by having multiple ways to communicate with your community during an emergency. Learn more: https://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2020/08/national-radio-day/ #PrepYourHealth
- Find ways to get involved in your community. When friends, family, or neighbors decide to get a COVID-19 vaccine, #BringDownBarriers and help them get vaccinated. Offer to help make their appointment, give them a ride to and from their appointment, or babysit if they need child care. Learn more: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/talk-about-vaccines.html #PrepYourHealth
- Section 508 helps most people with disabilities have access to information on public-facing government webpages. It’s the law. You can help improve access to public information. Report accessibility issues with government websites to help #BringDownBarriers. Communicate problems with @CDC at https://www.cdc.gov/contact/accessibility.html #PrepYourHealth
Social determinants of health are conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play that affect a wide range of health and quality of life risks and outcomes. Social barriers related to the conditions in which people live, learn, and work can contribute to health disparities. Examples of social barriers include:
- Long travel distances
- Physical barriers (e.g., no sidewalks, wheelchair ramps, etc.)
- Limited or no access to computers and the internet (i.e., the digital divide)
- Stigma, prejudice, racism, ableism, and discrimination
- #DYK? 2 in 5 adults 65 years & older living in rural communities have a disability. People w/ disabilities in rural areas may have trouble getting a #COVID19 vaccine. #BringDownBarriers and make it possible for them to #SleeveUp. More: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/talk-about-vaccines.html #PrepYourHealth
- Many racial & ethnic minority groups may face barriers to #COVID19 vaccination. Health equity occurs when everyone can be as healthy as possible, including access to COVID-19 & flu vaccines. Learn more: https://www.cdc.gov/healthequity/index.html #PrepYourHealth #BringDownBarriers
- People with disabilities can experience loneliness & isolation more than people without disabilities. Social connectedness can affect a person’s ability to #StayHealthy during an emergency. Find ways to #StayConnected: https://www.cdc.gov/prepyourhealth/planahead/stayconnected/index.htm #PrepYourHealth #BringDownBarriers
- It’s normal for some people to need professional help to cope w/ emotions in an emergency. Don’t let mental health stigma stop you from taking care of yourself. #BringDownBarriers & get the help you need. Call or text 1-800-985-5990 to connect w/ @distressline. #PrepYourHealth
- Be a #DisabilityALLY to people living with disabilities in your community. Help them form personal support networks in places they spend time. Members can be friends, neighbors, etc. & help in an #emergency. More: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/humandevelopment/become-a-disability-ALLY.html?s_cid=ncbddd_dhdd_ALLY_social_2021-06 #PrepYourHealth #BringDownBarriers
- Many racial and ethnic minority groups may face barriers to receiving COVID-19 vaccines. Health equity occurs when everyone can be as healthy as possible, including access to COVID-19 and flu vaccines. Learn more: https://www.cdc.gov/healthequity/index.html #PrepYourHealth #BringDownBarriers
- It is natural to experience difficult and strong emotions during and after an emergency. Some people may need professional help to cope with these feelings. Don’t let stigma create self-doubt and shame, cause you to isolate from others, or prevent you from getting help. #BringDownBarriers by getting the help you need. Call or text 1-800-985-5990 to connect with a @distressline counselor. #PrepYourHealth
- Get involved with family, friends, and neighbors who need help preparing for and responding to emergencies. Help them form a personal support network of people who understand their personal needs and are willing and able to help in an emergency. This network can consist of family members, friends, caregivers, and neighbors. Learn more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uijKKb2-als #PrepYourHealth #BringDownBarriers
Transportation barriers are due to a lack of access to transportation, making it difficult or impossible for a person to be independent and function fully in society. People with physical, cognitive, economic, or other limitations that affect their ability to use motor vehicles are disproportionately affected by inadequate public transportation systems. Examples of transportation barriers include:
- Limited, inconvenient, or no access to accessible transportation
- Physical barriers (e.g., no sidewalks, lack of or inoperable lifts and ramps, etc.)
- Stigmatized attitudes toward people with disabilities
- Some people with disabilities cannot evacuate on their own because of medical or special transportation needs. Help is available in some places for people who need it in an evacuation. Learn more about evacuation assistance where you live. #PrepYourHealth #BringDownBarriers
- Millions of people in the U.S. don’t regularly or are unable to leave their homes. Help friends, family, & neighbors who can’t leave their homes prepare for emergencies. E.g., offer to run essential errands for them. More: https://www.cdc.gov/prepyourhealth/createcommunity/careforeachother/tips.htm #PrepYourHealth #BringDownBarriers
- #DYK? 45% of people in the U.S. do not have access to public transportation. Public transportation is important to evacuations during an #emergency. Learn more: https://www.cdc.gov/policy/hst/hi5/publictransportation/index.html #PrepYourHealth #BringDownBarriers
- #PlanAhead for an evacuation. ID multiple ways to get to safety if you don’t have access to a vehicle:
- Plan to carpool with neighbors.
- Ask about city-assisted evacuation.
- Call your local non-emergency police phone number.
- Being prepared includes performing a self-assessment, being honest about your limitations, and—if necessary —giving yourself more time to evacuate before an #emergency. If you are unable to evacuate on your own because of medical or special transportation needs, evacuation assistance is available in some places. Contact your local fire department or emergency management office to learn more about evacuation assistance where you live. #PrepYourHealth #BringDownBarriers
- Some people may not own or have access to a personal vehicle during an evacuation. Plan ahead for an evacuation if you rely on public transportation, paratransit, or ridesharing to get around. Identify some ways to get to safety in case of an emergency:
- Plan to carpool with neighbors.
- Look into city-assisted evacuation if you have medical or special transportation needs.
- Call your local non-emergency police phone number for more information on services in your area.