Emergency Preparedness: Workplace - Hearing and Speech Agency

Emergency Preparedness: Workplace

Earlier this week we covered strategies to prepare for and react to an emergency situation for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, or those who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing. While these tips provide useful strategies for homes, families, and individuals, disasters may strike when you are at work, adding another level of complexity to an emergency.



Communication accessibility in an emergency can have life-or-death implications. Ensure the safety and inclusion of all employees in your emergency planning and response


1. Make sure your alarm system includes both visual and auditory alerts. Most modern fire alarms have a flashing light, but ensure any other alarms are equipped with both lights and sound.

2. Distribute emergency messages via email or text, not just verbally. Many phone systems have an intercom system that activates the lights on each phone. Set the norm that when the intercom button is lit, employees should also check their email (or chat box, or text messages) to read the message. Not only does this support employees with communication challenges, it also can assist English Language Learners or those who missed the message for another reason (see our writeup on Universal Design). 

3. Assign each employee, no matter their communication needs, a buddy in case of an evacuation. It is easiest to pair up individuals who share a work area or who have similar responsibilities. This way, if an individual is out of the office, their buddy will most likely be aware. Ask each partner to check on their counterpart in an emergency and relay any information, if necessary. Employees with communication challenges may benefit from having multiple partners, in case one is out of the office.  

4. Ask employees what they need. As we’ve said before, good communication does not have to be difficult. Showing your openness to communication accessibility can help empower these individuals to express needs you may not have considered and ultimately ensure the safety of all employees in an emergency.


Still have questions? Reach out to HASA  and let us support all of your communication needs.

Hearing and Speech AgencyHarry and Jeanette Weinberg Building 5900 Metro Drive Baltimore, MD 21215 410.318.6780