Environmental Health and Radiation Safety

Emergency Procedures for Persons with Disabilities

Nothing is more important than the safety, security and wellness of everyone in the UToledo community. If you are a person with a disability who may need assistance during building evacuation or other emergencies, we recommend you self-identify to the Office of Accessibility and Disability Resources (The Office Of Accessibility and Disability Resources (utoledo.edu)).  Once an individual has self-identified, the Office of Accessibility will work with the individual to develop a personal emergency plan.

During an emergency, persons with disabilities may require assistance with alerting, evacuating, and sheltering.  If you are a person with a disability who may need assistance during building evacuation or other emergency, before an emergency occurs we recommend:

  • Be familiar with evacuation options.
  • Prior planning and practicing of emergency evacuation routes are important essential in assuring a safe evacuation.
  • Seek evacuation assistance from those who are willing to assist in case of an emergency. A "buddy system", where persons with disabilities pre-identify volunteers (co-workers, roommates, classmates) to alert them and assist in an emergency is a good method are all part of a well-designed emergency plan.

Tips during an emergency for a person with a disability

  • Make your presence known to others in the area.
  • Move to the nearest stairwell or safe exit. If you need help, ask someone to assist you to the nearest stairwell or safe exit.
  • If you are able, personally notify emergency response personnel by calling the police or ask someone to notify emergency response personnel of your location and your need to be evacuated.
  • Most buildings have accessible exits at the ground level floor that can be used during an emergency.
  • If evacuation is not an option, move into unaffected wings of the building preferably with an exterior window, a telephone and a solid or fire-resistant door.
  • Contact emergency services by dialing 9-1-1 and reporting your location directly. Emergency services will immediately relay this to on-site emergency personnel, who will determine the necessity for evacuation.

Tips during an emergency for assisting a person with a disability

Through brief communication and asking questions, evacuation can be quick and safe. Always ask an individual how you can help before attempting any rescue technique or giving assistance.  Ask how the person can best be assisted or moved, and whether there are any special considerations or items that need to come also.  It is important to keep in mind that the person with the disability is the best authority on how to be assisted.  Clear communication will help ensure no emergency situation is made worse.


Visual Impairments

  • Be sure to explain the nature of the emergency.
  • Ask if assistance is required to the nearest safe exit.
  • Do not grasp a visually impaired person’s arm. Ask if he or she would like to hold onto your arm as you exit.

As you navigate, tell the person where you are and advise of any obstacles (stairs, doors, etc.). When you reach safety, orient the person to where he/she is and ask if any further assistance is needed.


Hearing Impairments

  • Explain the nature of the emergency by speaking slowly and clearly in front of the person or by the written word.
  • Give visual instructions to advise about the safest route or direction by pointing toward exits or evacuation maps.
  • If necessary, guide person to nearest safe exit and to a safe location.
  • Be sure to relay and update any announced emergency information to the person assisted.


Mobility Impairments

  • Ask how you can best assist.
  • Persons with mobility impairments, who are able to walk independently, may be able to negotiate stairs in an emergency with minor assistance.
  • If danger is imminent, the individual should wait until the heavy traffic has cleared before attempting the stairs.
  • If there is no immediate danger (detectable smoke, fire, or unusual odor), the person with a disability may choose to stay in the building, using the other options, until the emergency personnel arrive and determine if evacuation is necessary.
  • If mobility impairments preclude the person with disabilities from evacuating the building, efforts should be made to have the person located in the safest place possible, preferably the nearest stairwell and await assistance from emergency personnel.

It is the responsibility of every member of the University community (faculty/staff/student) to immediately notify first responders of the location of the person who was unable to exit the building.

If you have any questions or concerns about this policy, please contact the Office of Accessibility Services at studentdisability@utoledo.edu or 419-530-4981.

To report all emergencies, call 9-1-1!  

Last Updated: 8/23/22