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Disabled Persons

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Persons With Disability Support

Policy on Emergency Evacuation
University policy requires that all persons leave any facility where a fire alarm is activated as promptly as possible via the nearest available exit. In facilities without alarm systems, all persons must leave whenever it becomes clear that an emergency exists which necessitates evacuation for their own safety.

No one is expected to endanger him/herself in order to effect or assist with evacuation of others, but everyone has a duty to ensure that other occupants are aware of an emergency. Similarly, it is expected that individuals will aid anyone requiring assistance to safely evacuate.

Arrangements for Evacuation
Arrangements can be made to reasonably assure that assistance with evacuation is provided to anyone who is known to require it; contact the faculty or staff member in charge of the facility or area.

When no prior arrangements are made, assistance may not be available at the time an emergency occurs.

Persons with disabilities may not be readily identifiable to others. Anyone with a disability not readily apparent should inform the person in charge of a facility that assistance with evacuation may be required to ensure it is available in the event of an emergency.

When assistance arrangements are made, there is no requirement to make them public.

Responsibility for Arrangements
Arrangements for assistance are usually best accomplished through establishing a personal relationship between the individual requiring assistance and one or more of his/her peers in the form of a "buddy" plan.

Redundant arrangements should be made to ensure the needed assistance is provided even when the primary provider is absent when an emergency occurs. Volunteers can usually be readily arranged.

Assistance with making arrangements should be sought from the faculty or staff member responsible for the activity or area.

Evacuation and Alternatives
The emergency evacuation alarm systems in most University facilities include visual and audible signalling devices which alert hearing impaired persons to alarm conditions.

In residential facilities, signalling components may be added or modified within individual units to accommodate a resident with a disability.

Elevators cannot safely be used for emergency egress, and are typically programmed to cease operating when a fire alarm is activated.

A wheelchair can constitute an unacceptable impedance to the ability of others using the stairway to evacuate, and may therefore have to be abandoned.

There are specific techniques to enable two persons to safely carry a third while descending stairs, but these must be learned and practiced prior to an actual emergency and are therefore impractical for occupants of a transient nature such as students.

Areas of safe refuge have been identified within many Norman Campus facilities (typically inside the protected emergency egress stairways) which wheelchair users can reach on their own, and where they can safely await assistance from public safety personnel in a position which does not impede or prevent emergency egress by other occupants.

Public safety personnel should be made aware of anyone needing assistance by other occupants who have evacuated. On campus, the stairway landing in most buildings is large enough to accommodate at least one wheelchair occupant and still be viable as a means of emergency egress for others.

While not all stairways fully qualify as "areas of safe refuge" as defined by code, they are usually substantially safer than any other area of the building and much preferable to remaining in an area where exposure to heat, smoke, and products of combustion are a hazard.

Pre-identifying and trying out an "area of safe refuge" is an acceptable alternative to assisted evacuation.

Emergencies should be reported as soon as possible by dialling 911 (TDD: 325-1911).

Questions pertaining to campus emergency procedures should be referred to the OU Police Department, (405)-325-2864, or by e-mail to Operations at OUPD OPERATIONS.

Questions on ADA compliance and/or accommodations for physically disabled persons should be referred to:


For a complete list of all TDD lines on campus, see "TDD Lines On The Norman Campus" on this site.

Off-Campus LINKS:
There is a large volume of information on the ADA and other disability-related topics accessable through a simple Internet search. Here are some starting points: