Friday, June 22, 2012

U.S. DOT, Office of the Secretary Invites ESPA to Support Transportation YOU Program

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.”

ESPA provides many resources for professionals in accessible transportation, including publications and trainings for newer professionals. For instance, Introduction to Travel Training, an intensive three-day course, is a free training initiative designed to help increase the skills, knowledge and abilities of travel training professionals especially those new to the field. For young adults or others interested in advocacy, ESPA hosted a webinar on advocating for transportation at the local level. In addition, the Including People with Disabilities:Communication & Meeting Etiquette Pocket Guide offers basic information on speaking and working with people with disabilities. VisitESPA’s website to learn more about accessible transportation and ways to get involved in making communities more livable for everyone.

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