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Hearing and Vision Disabilities


The way that emergency warnings are issued in an emergency is critical to the understanding of instructions and the subsequent response and safety of those with hearing loss.

Your Emerency Plan:

Communicate your hearing loss by moving our lips without making a sound, pointing to your ear, using a gesture, or if applicable, pointing to your hearing aid.

Keep a pencil and paper handy for written communication.

Obtain a pager that is connected to an emergency paging system at your work place and/or your residence.

Install a smoke detection system that includes flashing strobe lights or vibrators to get your attention if the alarms sound.

Test smoke detection system monthly by pushing test button.

Replace batteries every six months or whenever three is a low battery signal.

Recommended additional items checklist

Writing pads and pencils for communication

Flashlight, whistle or personal alarm

Pre-printed phrases you would use during an emergency, such as "I use American sign language" or "if you make announcements, I will need to have them written simply or signed"

Assistive equipment according to your needs (i.e., hearing aid, personal amplifier, etc.)

Portable visual notification devices to know if someone is knocking on the door, ringing the doorbell, or calling on the telephone

Extra batteries for assistive devices

A CommuniCard (produced by a national hearing society) that explains your hearing loss and identifies how first responders can communicate with you during an emergency


Assisting a person with a hearing impairment - what to do

Get the person's attention via a visual cue or a gentle touch on their arm. Do not approach the person from behind

Face the person, make eye contact when speaking to them as they may rely on lip reading and communicate in close proximity

Speak clearly and naturally. Do not shout or speak unnaturally slowly

Try to rephrase, rather than repeating yourself

Use gestures to help illustrate your meaning

If there is time, it may be helpful to write a message

Hearing aids amplify sounds and can create a physical shock to the user, so do not make loud noises

Note that some people may be def-blind


A person who is blind or has reduced vision may have difficulty reading signs or moving through unfamiliar environments during an emergency. They may feel lost and/or dependent on others for guidance.

Your emergency plan

Have a longer white cane available to readily move around obstacles (there may be debris on the floor or furniture may have shifted)

Identify all emergency supplies in advance with fluorescent tape, large print or Braille text, such as gas, water and electric shutoff valves

Familiarize yourself in advance with all escape routes and locations of emergency doors/exits on each floor of any building where you work, live and visit

Recommended additional items checklist

Extra white cane, preferable longer in length

Talking or Braille clock

Large print timepiece with extra batteries

Extra vision aids such as an electronic travel aid, monocular, binocular or magnifer

Extra pair of prescription glasses (if applicable)

Any reading devices/assistive technology to access information or portable CCTV devices



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