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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

HHS/ASPR Access and Functional Needs Fact Sheet

Populations with access and functional needs infographic


Whole Community Planning

In planning for the whole community’s needs during a disaster, consider that on any given day, approximately half of the U.S. population has a temporary or permanent condition that limits their ability to take action in an emergency. Simply put – they have access and functional needs (AFN).

Addressing access and functional needs is a crucial part of comprehensive disaster planning for the whole community and is mandated for inclusion in federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial public health emergency plans. ASPR has developed the HHS/ ASPR Access and Functional Needs (AFN) Web-Based Training to help public health officials, emergency managers, and social/human service providers learn how to address access and functional needs in disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.


The concept of access and functional

The concept of access and functional needs provides an inclusive approach to describing the wide array of populations who may have additional needs before, during, or after an emergency. Populations with access and functional needs may include but are not limited to:

  • Children
  • People living in institutional settings
  • Older adults
  • Pregnant women
  • People with disabilities
  • People with chronic conditions
  • People with pharmacological dependency
  • People with limited access to transportation
  • Limited English proficiency/non- English speakers
  • People of low socioeconomic status
  • Individuals experiencing homelessness


Protection from Discrimination

Public health officials, emergency managers, and social/human service providers need to be aware of and comply with the legal requirements that were designed to protect individuals with access and functional needs from discrimination. The training highlights information from federal guidance, laws and executive orders that require non-discrimination for addressing access and functional needs—both specific and non-specific to a disaster context.


Tools, Resources and Data

Within the training, participants learn how to operationalize the Communication, Maintaining Health, Independence, Support and Safety, and Transportation (CMIST) framework to address a broad set of common access and functional needs irrespective of specific diagnoses, status, or labels. Additionally, the training provides tools and resources for addressing access and functional needs during disaster preparedness, response, and recovery activities. Participants will find relevant data, recommended partners, and links to tools and information so that they may immediately apply what they have learned and successfully address access and functional needs in their communities.


Learn More

Addressing AFN is a crucial part of comprehensive disaster planning for the whole community and is mandated for inclusion in federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial public health emergency plans. To learn more about addressing the AFN of individuals and the CMIST Framework, you may take the free HHS/ASPR Access and Functional Needs Web-Based Training.

  • This page last reviewed: September 08, 2020