Emergency Preparedness for Disabled People

Disasters happen. Especially for disabled people, planning and preparation are the keys to being as safe as possible in an emergency. UC Berkeley is committed to the safety of all of its students, staff, faculty and visitors with and without disabilities.This section provides information on the campus-wide emergency preparedness features and procedures, as well as building-specific plans as they pertain to disabled people.

Building Specific Data

Each building’s page includes information of that building’s most important safety features. Specifically, you can find  the location of evacuation wheelchairs and Designated Waiting Areas on each building’s directory. 

Individual Evacuation Planning

Students enrolled in the Disabled Students’ Program may request an individualized assessment of their emergency preparedness needs for times when they are in class or on campus. Students should contact their assigned Disability Specialist to start that process, or can make a request via our portal

Employees can use the same portal to request consultations as well.

Individual planning appointments covers:

  • Review of building plans showing DWAs, evacuation chairs/cabinets, accessible routes, and assembly areas
  • Itemizing what is needed in an emergency go bag
  • Scripting instructions for those assisting you during evacuation
  • An email introduction to the Building Manager
  • Set up for Text 911, emergency notifications, and download of media app for the university radio - all for information exchange in emergency
  • Warm hand-off for individuals to DOR/VOR or Lighthouse for the Blind where an individual would like wayfinding/ travel training
  • Scheduling a building evacuation walk-thru/observation upon request

We suggest people review the UC Berkeley Emergency Evacuation Planning for Disabled People fact sheet for additional information. 

Additional Resources, Information and Services

In addition to our emergency evacuation consultations, DAC has other elements in place to support safety for disabled people in emergencies, including;

  • Inclusive Building Emergency Evacuation Plans: We provide disability inclusive templates for Building Emergency Evacuation Plan form

  • Inclusive Evacuation Signage: With partners in Facilities, campus is now installing signage that contains the required campus elements, and has identifiers for all disability related items (designated waiting areas, evacuation chairs, accessible exits, etc). DAC, with consultation from Fire, Facilities and others, created these. This year Facilities hired a company that is manufacturing and installing the signage in core campus buildings. 

  • Evacuation Chairs: We want to ensure there are evacuation chairs in all campus buildings. DAC has secured grant money in the past to provide these, and while we have no funds currently, we can help building managers or others pick chair(s) to buy if they don’t have them already. If a student during consultation with us requests a chair adjacent to their room, we will notified appropriate persons so that can be provided.

  • Disabled People’s Self Identification Questionnaire: We disseminate this questionnaire annually, and housing embeds a link to it in their communications to resident students. Developed together with disabled students, staff and faculty, it elicits information that helps first responders, building managers, EHS, OEM and DAC better understand where on campus disabled people live, work and learn, and how to evacuate them, including information such as if they have a support or service animal that will require evacuation, etc. 

  • Personalized Consultations: These consultations empower disabled people to prepare for evacuation, including making a list for a go-bag, downloading ‘text 911’ and ‘Warn Me’ on phones, and taking other important preparatory steps. DAC created a consultation module and meets with disabled employees and students to execute it in real time, on request. They can request a consultation on the questionnaire or the DAC website

  • Drills:  We are available to help include evacuation chair usage in emergency evacuation drills. You can learn how to do so in this slide deck and in these videos of an evacuation using an evacuation chair, and using What3Words to locate an Assembly Area after exiting the building.

  • Training. We currently partner with UCPD and provide annual training around evacuation of disabled people on campus. We have not had requests for this training from other entities, but would be open to it.

  • EOC Participation. Staff in DAC participate in the EOC and serve as the Access & Functional Needs Coordinator for this entity.

Office of Emergency Management

The Office of Emergency Management(link is external) (OEM) is the campus office responsible for maintaining campus-wide emergency plans and coordinating the campus response in case of an emergency. DAC works closely with the OEM to make sure that those plans include considerations for the needs of campus disabled community members.

Preparedness Video from the World Institute on Disability

Disaster Readiness for People with Paralysis and Other Disabilities