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Getting Everyone Out: Accessible Emergency Evacuations

Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification (RHFAC) Professional, Brad McCannell, says that “the building code puts a lot of effort into getting people into buildings, but they put no effort into getting people with disabilities out.” Ensuring that your space is easily and safely navigated by everyone in day-to-day use is an important component of accessibility, but an indispensable extension of this is ensuring that everyone can navigate your space with the same ease and safety during an emergency.

Keeping people safe always means going beyond the building code. Are your emergency evacuation signs mounted at a height that is visible from a seated position? Does your signage and wayfinding include Braille and tactile elements? Do your fire alarms have visual cues for those who are deaf? An accessibility professional, like Kristen Habermehl, can help you prepare an evacuation plan that includes everyone’s safety and considers scenarios that might be otherwise overlooked. For instance, if an elevator shuts down in a building that is more than a story high, how can people who are not able to travel by stairs exit safely?

Kristen has spent years assessing countless buildings through her company, Atlantic Accessibility. Kristen says that “we rarely see examples of well thought through accessible emergency evacuations.” She highlights that this is due to a lack of caring, but a lack of understanding. To combat this issue, Kristen offers services in employee training, site equipment, and evacuation planning. If you want to rethink emergency evacuations, contact Atlantic Accessibility today to equip your site with informed employees, the right tools, and an evacuation strategy that works. Save lives with something that few buildings have: a plan to get everyone out!