Impact Feature Issue on Meeting Transportation Needs of Youth and Adults with Developmental Disabilities
A National Resource on Disability and Transportation: Easter Seals Project ACTION
For many individuals with developmental and other disabilities, being able to use public transportation represents not only the opportunity to pursue steps towards independence, but also a passport to a host of activities. While in many communities the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has resulted in public transit becoming physically accessible to people with disabilities, many individuals have not had the opportunity to build awareness about and skills in using public transit options. This is an unnecessary barrier to living as independently as possible. Contributing to the removal and elimination of those obstacles is part of the mission of Easter Seals Project ACTION (Accessible Community Transportation In Our Nation).
Project ACTION promotes and facilitates collaboration between the transportation industry and the disability community to increase mobility for people with disabilities. Funded through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transportation Administration, and administered by Easter Seals, Project ACTION provides free training, technical assistance, and informational resources useful to human service organizations; educators; transition specialists; travel instructors; rehabilitation counselors; employment specialists; physical and occupational therapists; people with disabilities, their families, and advocates; and the transportation industry. Among its programs and resources are:
- Curriculum development. Project ACTION has developed curricula and educational support materials to introduce travel instruction into America’s classrooms, and encourage incorporation of travel instruction into Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). Educational materials include You Can Ride, a pictorial guide to successful bus travel designed for students unable to read, and a new secondary curriculum, The Route to Freedom, which provides both academic and experiential lesson plans for students in grades 8-12 on accessible community transportation.
- Technical assistance. Project ACTION offers extensive technical assistance to individuals and groups across the United States on multiple aspects of accessible community transportation. Questions about ADA implementation, including such matters as determining eligibility for paratransit services, locating transportation resources in communities, and creating agency transportation policy, can be brought to the project through its toll-free number and Web site. A four-day Mobility Planning Services Institute conducted annually in Washington, DC, offers community teams of transit officials and human service providers, school personnel, and disability advocates a free opportunity to meet, learn, and develop action plans to improve transportation opportunities for people with disabilities in their communities.
- Training. Project ACTION’s People On The Move train-the-trainers program puts knowledge into action. Individuals with disabilities, those who serve them in a wide variety of settings, and transportation professionals attend this free program. Staff from Project ACTION conduct these trainings across the nation several times a year. Once participants complete the training, they are uniquely equipped with knowledge and materials to return to their communities and teach others how to work with individuals with disabilities to increase their understanding and use of accessible transportation.
- Clearinghouse. With more than 90 free print, video, and audio resources addressing topics ranging from emergency transportation planning to bus stop accessibility, there is literally something for anyone interested in accessible transportation in the clearinghouse. All materials are available in alternative formats. Materials can be ordered either through the toll-free number or on the Web. Additionally, by visiting the Web site it is possible to subscribe to Update, a bimonthly newsletter with the latest information about Project ACTION events, news, and resources.
- Applied research. Project ACTION regularly solicits Statements of Need to advance the availability and use of accessible transportation. From these Statements of Need, applied research priorities are established and often turned into requests for proposals and funding awards.
For 16 years Project ACTION has been working to increase the availability and use of accessible transportation by citizens with disabilities. Its extensive array of free resources stands ready to assist in eliminating transportation barriers in our communities and to move communities forward toward the goal of a fully integrated, effective, community transportation system.