Persons with disabilities and others with access & functional needs

The Niagara County Department of Health, Division of Planning and Public Health Emergency Preparedness must address the needs of persons with disabilities and access and functional needs in preparedness planning, response, mitigation and recovery.

What is a disability?

An individual with a disability is defined by the ADA as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment. Various types of disabilities include physical mobility, sensory, intellectual, developmental, cognitive, or mental disabilities.

What are access and functional needs?

Individuals with or without disabilities, who may need additional assistance because of any condition (temporary or permanent) that may limit their ability to access or receive medical care before, during, or after a disaster or public health emergency.

Examples of at-risk populations may include but are not limited to children, pregnant women, older adults, people with disabilities, people from diverse cultures, people with limited English proficiency, people with limited access to transportation, people with limited access to financial resources, people experiencing homelessness, people who have chronic health conditions, and people who have pharmacological dependency. 

At-Risk Populations

At-Risk Population


During time of a disaster, persons with disabilities and/or access and functional needs may also be faced with a number of other challenges; such as, warning and notification issues, how will I be notified and where can I find information?, evacuation and transportation issues, when instructed to leave their home, what do I take with me and how much?

Each person's needs and abilities are unique, but every individual can take important steps to prepare for all kinds of emergencies and put plans in place. By evaluating your own personal needs and making an emergency plan, you can be better prepared for any situation.

Follow the basic steps for emergency preparedness:

  • Get Informed: Know what disasters could affect your area, which ones could call for an evacuation and when to shelter in place. Monitor local weather and download the Niagara County Emergency Services app Prepare Niagara.  Prepare Niagara is available for download for free in the App Store and Google Play by searching “Niagara County Emergency, NY, or going to
  • Make a Plan: In the event of a disaster could you make it on your own for several days? After a disaster you may not have access to a medical facility or even a drugstore. It’s crucial to plan for your daily needs and know what you would do if they become limited or unavailable
  • Build a Kit: In addition to having your basic survival supplies, an emergency kit should have items to meet your individual needs in various emergencies. Consider the items you use every day and which ones you may need to add to your kit.


Core Advisory Group

The Departments of Health and Emergency Services coordinate the Niagara County Access and Functional Needs Core Advisory Group (AFN CAG). The purpose of the CAG is to advise Niagara County in our emergency response planning to ensure that the needs of people with access and functional needs are included in a whole-community approach.

The Niagara County CAG is comprised of people with access and functional needs, advocacy groups, and organizations that work directly with people with access and functional needs. For more information on the CAG please contact the Niagara County Department of Health, Division of Planning and Emergency Preparedness (

The following agencies participate in the CAG:

  • 211 WNY
  • Deaf Access Services w/ People Inc.
  • Health Association of Niagara County Inc. (HANCI)
  • Independent Living Niagara County
  • Niagara County
    • Department of Emergency Services /Office of Emergency Management
    • Department of Health
    • Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse
    • Office of Aging
  • Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA)
  • Niagara University
  • Visually Impaired Advancement (VIA)
  • WNY Empower

2023 Community Engagement Survey

The Preparedness Division has developed a comprehensive survey that will be administered throughout Niagara County from June 1 – August 31.  This survey was developed with the input of the Niagara County Core Advisory Group (CAG) (for Disabilities and Functional and Access Needs) and includes questions related to preparedness, preferred means of communication, health literacy, and COVID-19 (vaccination/vaccine hesitance and Long COVID.

This survey is available online at and our staff will administer the survey at community health fairs, public gatherings (fairs, festivals, farmers markets, etc.), food pantries and soup kitchens, libraries, and many other venues.  To encourage completion of this survey, incentives including a Health Kit (Sensory Kit or Wellness Kit) or a chance to win an Austin Healthmate Air Purifier will be available to participants.

Please complete this survey and have your experiences captured and help us provide better services to our community.