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When disaster strikes, one of the groups that need special assistance are people with special needs. That's why Dallas County is launching Texas' first initiative to better prepare the special-needs community for emergency situations, according to a release. Beginning this September, the county Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management (HSEM) will host a Community Emergency Response Team training program specifically for the hearing impaired. Previously, this group was told by some emergency management personnel that their disabilities barred them from becoming a CERT trainer. Now, they'll be encouraged to take a CERT course to learn how they can help others before fire, police and medical responders arrive. While the county is targeting the hearing impaired first, it hopes to eventually expand its outreach to more groups, said HSEM Director Lisa Chambers. In addition, the county is working with cities and local advocacy groups to create a Disability Integration Working Group that will identify ways to better assist disabled populations during emergencies.