• evacuation;
  • visual impairment;
  • walking speed;
  • human behavior;
  • stairs;
  • horizontal plane


Evacuation characteristics for the blind and visually impaired people are presented in the current study. Forty participants in the age from 10 to 69 years with impairments for all of the four Danish categories (A–D) took part in the study. The mean free walking speed descending stairs for categories C and D were found to be comparable with values found in Danish and Swedish guidelines. The walking speed of people with visual impairments was not affected by an increasing density on the stairs to the same extent as the walking speed of able-bodied adults. It was found that people with visual impairments were able to uphold a higher walking speed descending stairs than able-bodied adults for increasing person density. The initial walking speed on horizontal planes is lower than the value suggested in literature. The horizontal mean free walking speed depends on the degree of vision loss. The design of the building environment is important for the ability to orientate for people with reduced sight. Walls and handrails are important for the self-orientation possibilities for people with visual impairments. The findings in the current study are indicative trends for evacuation characteristics of the blind and visually impaired people. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.