How to help people with a disability evacuate during an emergency

Are your evacuation plans accessible?

As more people return to the workplace, and workforce participation from people with a disability is increasing, it is essential to ensure that people with a disability can evacuate your building quickly in an emergency.

People living with different disabilities will face different sets of challenges in the case of an emergency, and it’s important to understand that standard emergency plans may not be sufficient to allow someone with a disability to evacuate safely and independently.

The biggest issue for anyone during an emergency is the time spent locating exits and finding the appropriate route, and this can be even more challenging for people with a disability.

Challenges for a person with a disability during an emergency

Vision Impairment

Someone with a vision impairment may not be able to rely on emergency lighting during a power failure or be able to see any obstructions blocking exit paths.
A vision impairment could make it challenging to identify exits and follow exit signage and, coupled with the difficulty of identifying the location of a fire, can delay their ability to move quickly and easily to a designated evacuation area.
Being unfamiliar with an escape route or even the layout of larger buildings and workplaces can cause significant stress and slow movement. A person’s ability to observe and follow the escape behaviour of others may also be impacted if they have a vision impairment.

Mobility Impairment or Wheelchair User

A person with a mobility impairment may find it difficult to move safely in a closely-packed crowd if strength and stability levels are reduced.
They may also find it difficult or unable to use stairs, which means they need to be familiar with all the wheelchair-accessible routes in the building.

Hearing Impairment

A person with a hearing impairment may be unable to hear emergency warning systems or the instructions others give, such as fire wardens.

It is also important to note that in many cases, disabilities are “hidden”, and it may not always be obvious when there is a need for assistance.

How BindiMaps helps people with a disability in an emergency

If you’re developing an emergency evacuation plan for your workplace, you need to ensure that everyone regardless of ability is able to safely evacuate themselves in an emergency situation.

People with disabilities have multiple needs and requirements when evacuating, and this is where BindiMaps can help.

Accessible Wayfinding

Wayfinding in an emergency evacuation is a significant problem for everyone unfamiliar with the building layout, or where complex buildings have multiple entrances and exits.

BindiMaps is a navigation app that guides users quickly, easily, and accurately through indoor spaces. Optimised for people with disabilities, it uses easy-to-follow audio navigation to guide a person with a vision impairment to the nearest evacuation point or emergency exit.

These evacuation paths can also be rehearsed and practised ahead of time and implemented as part of a Personal Emergency Egress Plans (PEEPs).

Wheelchair Routes

For wheelchair users, BindiMaps can be switched over to the ‘wheelchair route’ feature, which will enable someone in a wheelchair to find their way to the nearest ramp, lift or accessible areas.

Optimising Alarm Systems

Hearing and recognising an evacuation alarm can be difficult for those with hearing impairments. It’s essential to consider other ways of raising the alarm, including visual alarms, paging systems, vibrating devices and tailoring of the sound frequencies delivered.

BindiMaps can be used in Map View to visually guide someone with a hearing impairment to the nearest emergency exit by following the on-screen directions.

Time spent locating exits and finding the appropriate route to take can add significantly to the overall escape time during an emergency, and by integrating BindiMaps into evacuation plans, someone with a disability is able to familiarise themselves with their nearest escape routes.

Get in touch to find out how integrating wayfinding technology like BindiMaps into your emergency planning will help make evacuating your building safe and accessible for people living with a disability.

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