Keywords: blindness, wayfinding, technology, emergency egress, emergency exits, Braille tactile map, remote infrared audible signage, RIAS, raised print signs, emergency management, talking signs, exit information, blind people, auditory information, emergency communications
Evaluation of emergency egress information for persons who are blind
Emergency procedures vary according to the type and extent of emergency, size of building, occupancy and type of building construction. There is no agreement on how emergency egress information should be provided for persons who are blind. This research investigated the efficacy of a Braille (Brl) sign, a Raised Print (RP) sign, a Tactile Map (TM), an audible route description activated by a pushbutton and exit signs equipped with Remote Infrared Audible Signage (RIAS) for enabling persons who are blind to travel routes to exits. The efficacy of each format in terms of time to acquire route information and time to travel a route was measured. Blind travellers' perceived needs and desires for obtaining emergency egress information were also investigated. Both RIAS and pushbutton-activated verbal route directions enabled participants to access and use emergency egress information efficiently. Auditory information was preferred above tactile information. Of the tactile formats, Brl resulted in more efficient access to egress information than RP and TMs and was preferred. This research is a first step in addressing the complex issues involved in providing emergency egress information to persons who are blind.