School Safety for Students with Disabilities

School Safety for Students with Disabilities

School Safety for Students with Disabilities


School emergency procedures are crucial to the safety of students. As schools review and update their safety procedures and crisis plans following recent school shootings, emergency preparedness for students with disabilities requires individualized planning. Special educators can play a key role in helping to develop these plans, so that everyone is equipped with the tools to keep students with disabilities safe during an emergency.


School Crisis Challenges


School emergency procedures often call for students to:

  • move quickly
  • assume specific and often uncomfortable positions
  • hide (and/or)
  • be silent


For some students with disabilities, these requests can be challenging, or in some cases – impossible. To keep students safe, we need to dig deeper and develop detailed plans that are specific to students’ individualized needs. For those who have experience in supporting students with disabilities, this just makes sense. After all, we develop Individualized Education Programs – or IEPs – to support these students’ specific learning needs. In the same way, we need to develop specific safety plans to keep students safe in the event of a disaster or emergency.


It’s always important to document what your students can do, as well as what they need help with. Consider developing an individual checklist that teachers and administrators could use to determine the supports needed for a student in an emergency.


Action Steps: Building a Successful School Safety Plan


Building a successful safety plan involves completing several key action steps, including these:

  1. Analyze the overall state, district and school crisis and disaster plans.
  2. Use the student IEP, student schedule and school layout to conduct a step-by-step review of what might happen or might be expected in an emergency.
  3. Review the school layout – and note any barriers to the student’s access – such as communication needs, physical supports, behavioral support needs, accommodations and modifications. Also, note any barriers to the student’s ability to comply with the school plan throughout the facility.
  4. Brainstorm solutions to barriers.
  5. Create an Individualized Emergency and Lockdown Plan, or IELP, based on the solutions to those barriers.


An Individualized Emergency and Lockdown Plan – or IELP – created for and kept with each student – helps ensure that emergency personnel will know what the child needs to support his or her physical, emotional, sensory and/or communication needs. An IELP can also provide:

  • procedures for explicit instruction (and)
  • needed supports for students with disabilities during a crisis


If a student is unable to carry along his or her IELP, it would help to develop an alternative solution – such as giving individual copies for each instructor and paraeducator, or keeping copies in each classroom.


The Vector Training School Safety for Students with Disabilities course available in our Special Education course library can help school staff members better understand the safety needs of students with disabilities and develop specific safety plans for students in their classrooms.


Contact us a 800.434.0154 or Request a Demo to learn more!


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