Upper West Side CERT

Talking Points for People with Vision Disabilities (and Those Who Wish to Help Them)

Blind man walkingThis is Part 1 of a three-part series on Ready New York Talking Points for People with Disabilities. We thank the NYC Office of Emergency Management for sharing this important information.

If you have a physical disability, we hope you will find these tips useful. If you happen to be a volunteer who works with disabled individuals, we hope they make your interactions easier and more meaningful.


  • When interacting with someone who is Blind, announce yourself and describe information in detail.
  • In the event you see a person who is Blind struggling to find their way, ask if they need assistance and then offer your elbow to guide them.


Make A Plan

  • Provide copies of important medical information to your support network, and make sure to place this information on a thumb drive or in another accessible format.
  • Know the level of assistance you will need during an emergency, and make sure to inform your support network.
  • Let first responders know how best to guide you and ask for details on where they are guiding you.
  • Ask your building management or co-workers to help you identify emergency exit locations in advance.
  • Place exit indicators/tactile markers in your home along the baseboard of exit routes.
  • The Hurricane Evacuation Zone Finder can be accessed by visiting nyc.gov/knowyourzone or by calling 311 (212-639-9675 for video relay, or 212-504-4115 for TTY).
  • Current Access-A-Ride customers can call Access-A-Ride directly and indicate that they would like to request evacuation assistance. Customers can also call 311.

Gather Supplies

  • Everyone needs a Go Bag. Follow this link to get started: Are You Prepared?
  • A back-up cane in the event your cane breaks, or if your guide dog is unable to handle an emergency situation.
  • A heavy pair of gloves to protect your hands, given how much you need to rely on touch.
  • Supplies for your service animal (e.g., water, food, blanket, toys, leash, vet contact info).
  • Mark your supplies with yellow tape, large print, or Braille so you are able to identify them.
  • Even though you have a vision disability, a flashlight can offer assistance not only for your mobility, but also for that of someone who might be with you. A flashlight and whistle are both imperative for visibility and signaling purposes. The human voice can only shout at its highest volume for about four minutes; a whistle can work for far longer to signal anyone within earshot that you are in need of help.

Stay Informed

  • Ready NY materials are offered in Audio format and in Braille, and are accessible with screen reading and screen magnification software. Visit www.nyc.gov/readyny.
  • Ready NY videos feature audio descriptions for those with vision disabilities.
  • Notify NYC voiceover messages can be accessed at www.nyc.gov/notifynyc.


June 11 – Talking Points for People with Hearing Disabilities
June 18 – Talking Points for Pets and Service Animals

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