Meet Dustin Snowadzky, AAPD/Portlight Inclusive Disaster Strategies Fellow

January 24, 2019 | Dustin Snowadzky, AAPD/Portlight Inclusive Disaster Strategies Fellow

Greetings! My name is Dustin Snowadzky and I am excited to join The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) as the first Portlight Inclusive Disaster Strategies Fellow.

The purpose of the Fellowship is to lead a national legislative initiative and facilitate collaboration among AAPD stakeholders and local and state disability inclusive emergency management coalitions, emergency management personnel and other stakeholders.

My Fellowship was established to advance legislative and community organizing initiatives affecting disaster impacted individuals with disabilities and emergency preparedness. I am focusing on the use of technology to maximize nationwide engagement towards passage and implementation of disability inclusive emergency management legislative initiatives.

My overall goal is to contribute to AAPD’s partnerships with disability organizations and other stakeholders committed to equal access to emergency and disaster services and programs for people with disabilities — before, during, and after disasters

I am joining AAPD for six months after two years as the Chief Technology Officer for the Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies. The Partnership was originally formed by Paul Timmons, Board Chair of Portlight Inclusive Disaster Strategies. For those of you that know my mother, Marcie Roth, or my sister, Jessa Steinbeck (now Specht), you know that I’ve been involved with the disability rights movement since I was born. Jessa was Helena Berger’s and Andy Imparato’s Administrative Assistant at AAPD almost 20 years ago, so my Fellowship at AAPD is, in many ways, among family.

While at the Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies I was the organizational lead for rapid and sustained national emergency response and recovery, providing technical assistance in support of federally declared disasters. I created and implemented internal and external tools for web and electronic support in disaster response. This included leading rapid development and deployment of technology solutions including a disaster hotline, information collection, distribution and management, community engagement, including Section 508 electronic and web accessibility compliance, management of medical supplies and durable medical equipment collection and distribution database, volunteer recruitment, training and organizational troubleshooting, and solutions for complex technology problems.

Another passion of mine is in game design. I have worked as a quality control technician and my college degree is in computer gaming and simulation. Last year, I was part of a team that won a national contest for designing and developing an educational game (with climate change as a theme) in 48 hours.

I am excited to bring some of my game design skills to AAPD and plan to work on a game that will be very educational and informative for emergency preparedness. I am engaged to a wonderful and very talented artist who is the Office Manager for the Partnership. Jessica and I will be married in a botanical garden in Juneau, Alaska next September.

Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities

Not to be an alarmist, but everyone should give some thought to what they will do in an emergency situation. This is especially true of people with disabilities, who may need to take additional supplies, procedures, and resources into account. Every person’s situation is different, so take the time to consider yours and plan accordingly.


Why should I worry myself and my family?

Making a plan and putting together a kit should not cause worry, it should just be about being prepared. In the event that an emergency occurs, you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that you’ve already considered the situation and gotten ready. You won’t be trying to figure things out on the fly in the heat of the moment. People with disabilities can face additional obstacles in reacting to emergencies and have additional requirements for supplies and services, so you should know what you might need and how to get it.


What am I preparing for?

Some people prepare for every possible scenario, from nuclear fallout to the zombie apocalypse. You do not have to cover everything that could ever (and will probably never) happen. What you should do is anticipate likely (and maybe a few less likely) emergencies. These might include a power outage, a fire, flooding, an earthquake, a hurricane and/or a tornado, and potentially having to evacuate your home. Knowing what to do and having supplies ready to go could make a huge difference.


What do I need to do?

  • You should collect the contact information for your family and/or support network and work out a plan for how you’ll contact them in case of an emergency.
  • You should have an emergency kit prepared, possibly more than one to keep in multiple locations. Your kit should include standard items such as food, water, batteries, and a radio. And, it should also include items for your unique circumstances like medical equipment, mobility supplies, and medications.
    • If you or someone in your family might be sensitive to an unfamiliar or chaotic environment you can include items like headphones/earplugs, devices that can meet needs for stimulation, and even a small pop-up tent to provide some private space.
    • If you have a service animal, make sure to include food and supplies for them in your kit as well.
  • You should look into where you might go if you are directed to evacuate to a shelter. Make sure your shelter is accessible and will meet your needs, and know how to explain/convey what you need to emergency workers.


Find out more:

There are lots of resources available at and that provide useful information for everyone, including materials specifically addressing the needs and considerations of people with disabilities.


Samantha Dannick is an AAPD Intern.

Our Sponsors