The purpose of this Letter of Cooperation is to describe the ways in which the Red Cross Disaster Cycle Services/Disability Integration (Red Cross DCS/DI) and the United States Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (USSAAC) will cooperate to help their communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies. Red Cross DCS/DI and USSAAC agree through this Letter to strengthen their relationship and work together on the projects described below and other activities consistent with their shared goals. These may include co-creation of educational and training materials for Red Cross shelter management teams to better understand the needs of people who require augmentative and alternative communication. Additionally, Red Cross DCS/DI and USSAAC may collaborate to provide training to USSAAC families on disaster preparedness and resilience, and assistive tools for adjusting to and coping with the shelter environment.


1. Communication between organizations

a. Representatives of USSAAC and the Red Cross will maintain open communication. Both parties will encourage their respective members and chapters to maintain open communication at the state and local levels. Each party will share current data regarding disasters (except for client information which may be confidential or privileged, unless disclosure has been expressly authorized by the client), disaster situational and operational reports, changes in personnel relating to this LoC, and any additional information pertinent to disaster preparedness, response and recovery.

b. Engagement at the local level

  • USSAAC and Red Cross will encourage their members and chapters to engage in discussions with each other to develop plans for serving users of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) in preparedness efforts, local response or disaster relief and recovery operations.
  • To locate a Red Cross chapter, USSAAC affiliates can go to http://www.redcross.org – “Find Your Local Red Cross”.
  • To locate a USSAAC member, Red Cross chapters can email membership@ussaac.org 
2. Partnership Activities

a. Preparedness

  • USSAAC and Red Cross DCS/DI will work together to provide guidance for improving the participation and experience of USSAAC client individuals and families in preparedness programs such as the Home Fire Campaign and the Pillowcase Project.
  • Red Cross DCS/DI will share and help disseminate information about our disaster preparedness library and apps to USSAAC clients.
  • Local USSAAC and Red Cross DCS/DI representatives will collaborate to include AAC clients in community preparedness planning and events.

b. Response and Recovery

  • During response and recovery, as USSAAC becomes aware of disaster related AAC needs in the community, they will share information with Red Cross DCS/DI and work together to develop a plan for replacement of damaged or destroyed AAC devices.
  • Red Cross DCS/DI will work with Casework/Recovery to make referrals to USSAAC when information is received from disaster-affected individuals and families who are not clients of USSAAC but express a need for communication tools, including replacement AAC devices.
  • Red Cross DCS/DI will facilitate the inclusion and participation of national and local USSAAC representatives on disaster committees, i.e., access and functional needs coalitions and community recovery groups.
  • Red Cross DCS/DI and Casework/Recovery will share with USSAAC appropriate recovery grant opportunities which may be offered in disaster-affected communities.
3. Other cooperative actions
  • Red Cross DCS/DI and USSAAC will actively seek to identify other areas within their respective organizations where cooperation and support will be mutually beneficial.

With respect to the partnership activities described in this letter, each organization will maintain its own identity, establish its own policies and finance its own activities.  Both organizations will allocate responsibility for any shared expenses in writing in advance of any commitment.  Finally, both organizations agree not to use or display any trademarks of the other without first receiving the express written permission to do so.

Points of Contact

American Red Cross USSAAC
Contact Shari Myers Contact Sarah Blackstone
Title Disability Integration Coordinator Title Co-Chair, Disaster Relief Committee, VP Financial Affairs
Address Disaster Cycle Services 8550 Arlington Blvd. Fairfax, VA 22031 Address 1 Surf Way, #237, Monterey, CA 93940
Work phone (571) 326-7659 Work phone (831) 402-3339
Mobile Same as above Mobile Same as above
e-mail Shari.Myers2@redcross.org e-mail sarahblack@aol.com

AAC Info

There’s a broad range of strategies and devices that individuals may use for communication if their speech isn’t functional.

Read More

Become a Member

Join us in our mission to enhance the lives of people with complex communication needs.

Read More

Our Latest News

Find out about events and webinars of interest to the AAC community!

Read More