BY: Najla Alexander
Children’s Specialized Hospital officials reported today that part of the Children’s Health Network at RWJ Barnabas Health is launching the Living Safely Online Center for Safety (rwjbh.org/cshlivingsafely).
Officials say the site is a new website designed to advance safety education and injury prevention for people with disabilities.
As the latest initiative of the hospital’s Living Safely with Disabilities and Special Health Needs program, the website serves as a one-stop accessible hub of safety tools and resources, guidance documents, public service announcements, and discussion templates to support community safety conversations between disabled residents, community caregivers, and local emergency response teams.
Funded in part by a $250,000 grant from the Division of Disability Services, New Jersey’s Department of Human Services, Living Safely with Disabilities and Special Health Needs is a partnership among disability advocates, organizations, agencies, and caregivers focused on improving equity, accessibility, and functionality of safety education and injury prevention, officials reported.
“More than sixty million adults in the United States have some type of disability, but public safety resources usually aren’t designed with disabled individuals in mind - and emergency responders typically aren’t trained in recognizing and addressing the safety needs of disabled people,” said Jill Harris, AVP of the Research Center and Coordinator of the Autism Program at Children’s Specialized.
“As a result, people with disabilities often aren’t prepared for safety situations and are more prone to injury. Ultimately, our goal is to change that narrative and lay the groundwork for a national safety coalition that prioritizes people with disabilities.”
Resources and tools available through the Living Safely Online Center for Safety were developed following a disability safety survey and a nationwide brainstorming summit, both of which engaged key audiences to identify challenges and opportunities for growth within safety education, officials say.
As a result of those findings, the new website includes educational material on topics such as law enforcement interactions, fire safety, wandering and elopement, and interpersonal violence.
These safety resources are available in multiple formats and outlets to address different learning styles, sensory issues, cognitive abilities, and accessibility needs.
“Any successful population health initiative requires deep and ongoing engagement with the individuals and communities that we work in conjunction with,” said Adrienne Robertiello, Special Health Care Educator at Children’s Specialized.
“Throughout this process, we have collaborated closely with a network of disabled self-advocates, organizations, agencies, emergency responders, academics, researchers, justice activists, and other safety stakeholders – all of whom are united in their commitment to bring forth more inclusive safety policy, practice, education, and outcomes.”
Extensive resources are available for emergency responders, law enforcement, caregivers, educators, researchers, technology developers, and others involved in safety, including guidance and tools that support inclusive safety practices.
Access these resources and learn more about Living Safely at rwjbh.org/cshlivingsafely.