Contributed by Whitney E. Gray
ESPA was pleased to provide resources and tools for Transportation YOU’s 2012 DC Youth Summit, an annual conference held by U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) and Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS). Transportation YOU is a mentoring program that offers girls ages 13-18 an introduction to a variety of careers in transportation. This year’s conference provided an opportunity for Transportation YOU’s participants to go on exclusive tours, meet with White House administrators, and participate in various challenges.
The resources that ESPA provided for the conference helped participants learn about making transportation accessible for people with disabilities. For the event, Bryna Helfer, director of public engagement at the Office of the Secretary, U.S. DOT invited ESPA to support the accessibility challenge at the summit by modifying a selection of current ESPA publications, including an accessibility checklist, which students could use in conducting their accessibility challenge review across cognitive, sensory, and physical domains. ESPA staff also assisted U.S. DOT officials map Washington, D.C. routes that students followed to complete the challenge; along the routes, students checked for signage, signals and environmental barriers, such as curb cuts and obstructions of pedestrian pathways (e.g. news stands, poles).
In his blog article about the conference, U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood shared photos from his meeting with conference participants and spoke about career opportunities in transportation. “The field of transportation,” Sec. LaHood stated, “is a diverse world offering these young women a host of opportunities and challenges that are as engaging as they are rewarding.”