Disasters, schools, and children: Disability at the intersection Academic Article uri icon


  • Scholars have solidly documented the importance of school safety for children experiencing disaster. However, research reviews and policy studies repeatedly report students with disabilities as excluded from consideration in school safety and disaster risk reduction activities. Here we present a systematic examination of studies that have investigated schools and children with disabilities in the context of environmental hazards. We were especially interested in identifying developments, both empirical and conceptual, since the first examination of the topic by Peek and Stough in 2010. Our search focused on the following academic disciplines; (a) disaster studies, (b) education, (c) disability studies, (d) public health and medicine, and (e) psychiatry and psychology. The search was extended to the grey literature to include practice and policy literature. Only 28 articles focusing on disability were found at the thematic intersection of disasters, schools, and children. Researchers, educators, and policy makers across disciplines repeatedly referenced the exclusion of students with disabilities in school disaster education and planning. However, several studies illustrated the important role of special education teachers in disaster education and in supporting students experiencing disaster. Additional studies reported effective instructional strategies for educating students with disabilities about disaster risk reduction or other general safety skills. Gaps in the research and practice literature are identified. Suggested that increased interdisciplinary collaborations amongst researchers across a wider range of academic disciplines holds promise for addressing the complex issue of how school children with disabilities are affected by disaster.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 1.85

author list (cited authors)

  • Stough, L. M., Ducy, E. M., Kang, D., & Lee, S.

citation count

  • 8

complete list of authors

  • Stough, Laura M||Ducy, Elizabeth McAdams||Kang, Donghyun||Lee, Sungyoon

publication date

  • May 2020