This area of Transition Services looks at training people with disabilities to use public transportation safely and independently.
It answers such questions as: What are the essential components of a successful travel training program? What specific skills do travelers need? What issues arise with specific disabilities such as physical, cognitive, or visual impairments.
Transportation provides us all with access to the wider opportunities of society employment, postsecondary education, job training programs, recreation. Traveling by car, by cab, or by public transportation systems such as bus and subway enables us to go to work and come home, go to school or other training programs, visit friends, take care of daily needs such as grocery shopping, and enjoy recreational activities.
Yet, many individuals with disabilities have traditionally been isolated from these societal opportunities, because they lacked a means of transportation. For many, driving a car was not possible, due to a visual, physical, or cognitive disability. Public transportation systems were often inaccessible due to structural barriers. Still other individuals were unable to use the transportation systems that were available, because they lacked the training, or "know-how," to use these systems safely.
Today, the lack of access to transportation that many individuals with disabilities have experienced is changing. Recently enacted federal legislation clearly intends to ensure that people with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate independently and successfully in society. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) recognizes the critical role that public transportation plays in the lives of many people and mandates that public transportation systems become accessible to people with disabilities. It also mandates that paratransit services are available and accessible to individuals who are unable to use public transportation.
Unfortunately, availability of transportation is not the only impediment to independent travel for people with disabilities. They must also know what systems of transport are available, how to access these, how to plan their travel, and how to execute their travel plans safely. For many individuals, learning how to travel on public transportation requires systematic training. Travel training, then, is often a crucial element in empowering people with disabilities to use the newly accessible transportation systems in our country.
To this end, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) can be of particular importance. The IDEA requires public schools to provide what are known as "transition services" to youth with disabilities, to prepare them for the transition from school to adult life. While accessible transportation and transportation training are not specifically mentioned within IDEA, clearly the ability to use available transportation systems may be critical to a student's transition into the adult world. Thus, both the ADA and the IDEA provide individuals with disabilities, their families, school systems, service providers, community agencies, and transit systems with compelling incentives to work together to ensure that individuals with disabilities learn how to use accessible transportation.
The focus of this section will be to discuss transportation concerns of students and adults with disabilities. After reading this section, you should understand the following:
- Travel Training
- Skills required for traveling independently
- Beginning Travel Training
- The process of travel training
- The necessity of travel training programs
- Who benefits from travel training programs?
- The Importance of Equal Access to Transportation
- Where to Look for Travel Training Programs
- Travel Training Guidelines for People with a Cognitive Disability
- Travel Training Guidelines for People with a Physical Disability
- What to Look For in a Travel Training Program
- Teaching Travel Skills to Persons who are Blind or Visually Impaired
- Evaluating the quality of programs that teach travel skills
- Public Transportation and the ADA
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