Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Take the Future by the Horns

Contributed by Judy L. Shanley

The theme of the 16th Annual Division on Career Development & Transition (DCDT) Conference, Take the Future by the Horns, is also a theme that resonates the spirit and direction of ESPA work related to students and schools. The national event offered something for everybody. Held in Kansas City, MO, the meeting was an opportunity for over 400 educators, transition specialists, students, family members, researchers, and human service organization representatives to come together to address topics related to secondary transition for youth with disabilities. The range of conference sessions enabled attendees to hear about transition practices analyzed by the National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center (NSTTAC); learn about State infrastructures and evaluating systems of collaboration from nationally recognized University of Kansas researchers, Pattie Noonan and Mary Morningstar; and offer advice to ESPA staff, Mary Leary and Judy Shanley, during a focus group session about school-based transportation education.

Especially exciting was the commitment of the DCDT Board in response to activities proposed by ESPA related to strengthening our work about accessible transportation with schools and districts. ESPA staff heard repeatedly “limited transportation options for students has an impact on the community-based experiences that students have while they are in school, and also affects the opportunities that all students have once they leave high school”. DCDT Board and members expressed support for ESPA in our focus to assist educators, transition specialists, students, and families learn about transportation services and offered their continued support as partners with us in these efforts. ESPA will take the future by the horns to develop additional materials for educators, pilot new school-based initiatives, and continue to examine how transportation education can be integrated in student transition planning and academic standards, especially related to 21st century skills.

Partnerships with national organizations such as DCDT enable ESPA to access educators and transition specialists who can provide input to our materials, training, and technical assistance. Their contributions will help shape our work to strengthen coordinated transportation services for students to access community based experiences while in school. Importantly, our partnerships with organizations such as DCDT will guide our activities related to student use of accessible transportation to succeed in post school employment, education, and independent living settings.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Global Transportation Community Meets at APTA Expo

Contributed by NiKette Banks and Whitney E. Gray

ESPA exhibit booth at APTA Expo

In October at the American Public Transportation Association’s 2011 Expo held in New Orleans, Louisiana, the global public transportation community gathered to share the latest developments in the field and learn from one another. Attendees were able to see the latest developments in bus and rail technology from around the world first-hand by walking through full-size buses and rail cars and speaking with company representatives. Easter Seals Project ACTION staff members at a booth on the expo floor were also available to answer questions about accessible transportation as well as give away some of our resources.

From speaking with many people who stopped by our booth, we learned more about initiatives happening across the country. One area of interest revolved around taxi service, especially accessible taxis. We heard from rural organizations that were adding taxis to existing services as a way to expand transportation options. In larger communities across the U.S., agencies are adding accessible taxis to their existing fleets. In Washington, D.C. for instance, the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board launched D.C.’s first wheelchair accessible taxicab pilot project, rollDC, which includes a fleet of 20 accessible taxicabs to serve people with disabilities. From interests in taxi service to other areas of accessible transportation, it was great to speak with so many people and hear about current community interests and initiatives.