Children’s Specialized Hospital

Initiative: Learn to Live Safely with Disabilities and Special Health Needs
Grant years: 2021–22, 2023-24
rwjbh.org/childrens-specialized-hospital/patients-visitors/living-safely

Grant One: 2021–22
People with disabilities are often at increased risk of injury. Yet, when safety education and resources are provided, they might not be relevant, understandable, or accessible to those with disabilities. To resolve this problem, we have created a one-stop hub of safety resources in multiple formats to increase accessibility, understanding, and use.

Developed in partnership with disability advocates, organizations, agencies, and caregivers, the guidance created during the course of this project supports the inclusion of people with disabilities within municipal, regional, and state community needs assessments; provider safety training; local emergency preparedness, safety plans, and kits; safety resources; and community safety education. 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.

As a result of those findings, the new website contains educational material including public service announcements, guidance documents, and resources on topics including 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.

Learn more at the Living Safely Online Center for Safety and join the Coalition for Living Safely with Disabilities and Special Needs.

Grant Two: 2023–24
Building on our initial accomplishments, Learn to Live Safely with Disabilities and Special Health Needs transforms safety education in New Jersey by embedding inclusive safety education within the state’s academic and municipal frameworks. Fundamentally, these efforts involve advocates with disabilities to ensure that safety education and supports resonate authentically with the communities they serve. The initiative collaborates with Rutgers University’s graduate interprofessional education programs to embed inclusive safety principles within curriculum development.

Learn to Live Safely introduces and evaluates accessible safety lessons in two notable New Jersey Special Education schools — Alpine Learning Group and Newmark Education — to prepare New Jersey youth with essential safety skills for adulthood. In collaboration with Winfield Township and the City of Elizabeth, the initiative is educating emergency responders about sensory and communication challenges and ways sensory communication kits can empower disabled people and emergency responders to communicate, regulate emotions, and engage more positively and safely.

Partnering with disability advocates, the initiative provides interactive and accessible learning opportunities for disabled residents to assemble and maintain emergency preparedness kits. Lastly, accessible safety resources and services, including NJ Register Ready, are being shared through New Jersey public libraries. Functional instructional videos and resources, created from these grant components, will serve as models for reference and replication statewide and nationally.