Feeling Trapped

Modern elevator emergency communications address an important industry challenge – communication during entrapments for visual-, hearing- and speech-impaired passengers 

By Amy J. Blankenbiller, Executive Director, National Elevator Industry, Inc.

The elevator industry has numerous processes and procedures in place to ensure a speedy and safe resolution to entrapments. ” Elevator emergency communications systems have been around since the 1950’s; however, there have been several changes and improvements along the way.  Every elevator built today is equipped with a means to communicate with someone who can take action 24/7. 


Elevator emergency communications systems are available in hundreds of thousands of elevators around the world and serve as serve an important safety function. For those passengers who are either hearing- or speech-impaired, the solution is not that simple. And that communication barrier can lead to a frightening experience.  


NEII Senior Director of Codes, Kevin Brinkman, does an exceptional job of sharing what went on behind the scenes from a codes perspective to bring two-way elevator emergency communications for all to life in NEII’s next article for Elevator World, which will appear in the June 2023 edition. This is a must-read for building owners and property managers. In it, Kevin touches on how, starting in the early 2000s, elevator emergency communications advanced from a handset to a single push button identified by the word “HELP”and included braille markings for vision-impaired passengers. He walks through the technological advancements and resulting elevator code enhancements that have steadily improved emergency communications since, highlighting requirements in the 2018 edition of the International Building Code and the 2019 edition of ASME A17.1/CSA B44. 


I am proud of the work that Kevin and his code colleagues have achieved to improve safety for visual-, hearing- and speech-impaired passengers through the development and adoption of these code provisions. NEII will continue to review the codes and promote provisions that protect the safety of industry professionals and the riding public. We will also continue efforts to ensure consistent adoption and enforcement of policies, codes and regulations; maximize choice for building transportation systems; drive innovation and performance; and be the definitive leader and trusted resource for industry information. 

About NEII

NEII is the premier trade association representing the global leaders in the building transportation industry. Its members install, maintain, and/or manufacture elevators, escalators, moving walks, and other building transportation products. NEII‘s membership includes the six major international companies – Fujitec America, Inc., KONE, Inc., Mitsubishi Electric US, Inc., Otis Elevator Company, Schindler Elevator Corporation, TK Elevator  and several other companies across the country. Collectively, the NEII members represent approximately eighty-five percent of the total hours worked within the elevator and escalator industry, employ more than 25,000 people in the U.S. and indirectly support hundreds of thousands of American jobs in affiliate industries. 

For more information about NEII, please visit www.neii.org

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