Evacuating Individuals with Disabilities from the Built Environment


Tilak Dutta, Zeyad Ghulam, Waqas Sajid, Yashoda Sharma, Abdulrahman Al-Bochi, Mark Weiler, Albert Vette, Brad Roberts, Steven Pong, Cesar Marquez-Chin


One in five Canadians over the age of 15 live with a disability and this number is expected to grow as our population ages. Additionally, nearly one in 20 children under 15 live with a disability. The built environment has become increasingly accessible over the past few decades. However, a critical component of accessibility is egressibility, which is the need for individuals with disabilities to be evacuated in an emergency. Despite its importance, this need has received little attention. Currently, individuals with disabilities are far more likely to be injured or killed in emergency situations compared to others. It is important to note that these risks extend far beyond those with disabilities to include family members, friends, co-workers, caregivers, or others who may find themselves accompanying someone with a disability, as well as individuals who are pregnant, or those with small children who may not be able to carry them downstairs.


The objective of this project is to provide a set of resources that can be used to revise existing egressibility guidelines, to create new standards, and to highlight gaps where future work is needed to improve egressibility of the built environment.


The report below provides a collection of resources that can be used to help provide an equal level of life safety for all. These resources were developed following a scoping review of the literature from 2002-2021 that describes solutions for evacuating individuals with disabilities from the built environment.

This report includes the following resources:

  • An Egressibility Matrix, which is a table containing evaluations of existing evacuation solutions for different combinations of possible impairments an individual may have and building types found in our built environment
  • Descriptions of the evacuation solutions shown in the Matrix
  • Possible design and/or implementation considerations for each solution as well as other strategies and training methods that may be helpful for preparing for potential evacuations
  • Suggestions for future work are provided where appropriate evacuation solutions were not found or where promising novel solutions have been developed and need further evaluation
  • An Egressibility Assessment Tool, which can be used to assign an egressibility score to buildings in the built environment
  • A list of stakeholders who contributed to this work

We believe these resources will help inform the development of new standards for emergency evacuations for individuals with disabilities.

Final Reports

Supplementary Material