Evacuation for Persons with Disabilities


  1. Plan your emergency strategy when you first enter a building.
    1. Where will you go and what will you do if you need to evacuate the building?

    2. Who will be available to help you?

    3. Ask about the location of designated areas of evacuation assistance for upper floors if elevators cannot be used for evacuation.  

    4. Environmental Health and Safety staff can assist employees and students with planning. Call 541-346-3192.

    5. Review more complete information about how to be prepared for emergencies on the University of Oregon Accessible Education Center.

  2. Self-identify that you have a disability to the University. Students can do so by notifying the Accessible Education Center at 541-346-1155, and employees can notify Affirmative Action at 541-346-3123.
  3. Set up “buddy arrangements” for assistance with colleagues, students, or instructors.
  4. Persons in fixed locations (such as employees) should assist departments in developing an exit plan.
  5. Sign up for UOAlert! on DuckWeb to receive emergency text notification regarding serious campus-wide emergencies.



  1. Do not use elevators. If you cannot exit the building without using the elevator follow the steps listed below:

  2. Go to the nearest area of evacuation assistance or safe zone (ask for assistance if necessary). Check with your department supervisor, building manager, classroom instructor or residence hall advisor to determine their locations in your building or work area. Areas of evacuation assistance may include an enclosed stairwell, a room with a door and an exterior window that can be opened, or a room with a door and an exterior window.

  3. Close the door to the stairwell or room.

  4. Notify emergency personnel of your location immediately by calling 911. Remain on the line with 911 until you are evacuated.

  5. Blindness or Visual Impairment: Exit the building following the appropriate evacuation route, which may be different than the most familiar path of travel. Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance in evacuating the building. Do not use elevators.

General Guidelines for Assisting Individuals with Disabilities


  1. Check on people with disabilities or special needs during an evacuation. Ask if they need assistance. Always ask someone with a disability how you can help before giving assistance.  Ask how to best provide assistance and whether there are any special considerations or items that need to accompany the person.
  2. Do not use elevators for emergency evacuation.
  3. In an emergency, call 911.
  4. Check on people with special needs during an evacuation.  A buddy system, where individuals arrange for volunteers or co-workers to alert and assist them in an emergency, is a good method.

Mobility Impairment: If a person cannot exit the building, ask if assistance is needed. If they elect to await evacuation assistance, escort the person to an “area of rescue assistance” or “safer zone”.  If needed, assist the person in calling 911. After you leave the building, immediately inform emergency personnel on site or call 911.

Blindness or Visual Impairment: A person assisting an individual who is visually impaired should:

  1. Ask if assistance is needed.  If so, offer your elbow and provide guidance through the evacuation route.  This may be especially helpful if there is debris or a crowd. Never grasp the arm of a person you are assisting.
  2. Give verbal instructions about the safest route or direction using directional terms and estimated distances.

Deafness, Hearing Loss, Language Difficulty: If a person appears to be unaware of the need for immediate evacuation use the following guidelines:

  1. Get their attention by touch or eye contact.  State the problem clearly and simply including the need to evacuate.  Gestures and pointing are helpful, but be prepared to write a brief statement if the person does not seem to understand.
  2. Offer visual instructions to designate the safest route or direction by pointing toward exits or evacuation maps.
  3. Offer to escort them from the building.