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Students with Visual Impairments Prepare for Disasters

A disaster preparedness plan and drills tailored for students with visual impairments, so they practice how to respond safely during and after emergencies.


Students who are visually impaired practice what to do when the earth shakes. Photo: Hari Kumar

Children with special needs may struggle to respond safely during and after emergencies. The Muenselling Institute at Khaling, (MIK), which is the premier institute for visually impaired children in Bhutan, needed help to develop a disaster preparedness plan and to conduct drills tailored for its students. 

Strong earthquakes will certainly occur in Bhutan's future, and fire is a concern in the wood dormitories. With our sister organization, GeoHazards Society, we helped staff and students plan and practice for these threats. 

Visually impaired students learned exactly how to Drop, Cover and Hold On during earthquake shaking, and they learned how to evacuate different parts of the school buildings and dormitories. They practiced drills for both fire and earthquake. Each child received 2 braille books, developed by us, about safe response during earthquakes and fire. Drills will be part of the school calendar, and new students and teachers will be oriented before joining classes.


"I knew that people should evacuate to open space   but never understood the absolute importance of planning how to evacuate from the building."

--Principal, Mueselling Institute at Khaling

Teachers learned how objects could fall, block exits, or confuse students' evacuation. They designated safest exit routes and set up teams with specific roles in a disaster. They studied the entire campus and reduced earthquake and fire hazards, for example by securing bookcases. Maintenance staff learned how to change and charge fire alarm batteries in dormitories. Project funded by Thornton Tomasetti Foundation

GeoHazards Society has developed resources for helping children with special needs to prepare for disasters:

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