Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Easter Seals Conducts Environmental Scan for New Project Funded by the Administration for Community Living

By Whitney E. Gray

Easter Seals, the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) and the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) have begun work on a three-year project titled Strengthening Inclusive Transportation Partnerships to Promote Community Living. The goal of this research and demonstration program is to improve the engagement of people with disabilities and older adults in the planning and implementation of coordinated transportation systems. Launched on October 1, 2012 with CTAA as the lead, the project is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living (ACL).

Photo of six individuals holding a discussion around a map
Photo Credit: / Dan Burden
The first phase of the project was an environmental scan to learn about the conditions and factors that encourage the engagement of people with disabilities and older adults in the planning and implementation of coordinated transportation systems. Led by Judy Shanley, director of student engagement and mobility management at Easter Seals, the scan will help identify effective practices that other organizations and coordinated transportation systems can replicate.  The scan involved interviews with program representatives including people with disabilities and older adults, from both human services and transportation organizations involved in coordinated transportation systems. The Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL), the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), the Arc, the Gerontology Institute at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) supported the environmental scan by assisting to conceptualize the environmental scan design, conducting interviews, and analyzing findings.  

Easter Seals will also be involved in other phases of the Strengthening Inclusive Transportation Partnerships to Promote Community Living, including through creating a knowledge sharing network and small grants demonstration program. For more information on the scan or project, please contact Judy Shanley. Or for more information on inclusive transportation planning, download or order ESPA’s booklet Effective Transportation Advisory Committees: Creating a Group that Reflects All Community Voices or the information brief Including People with Disabilities in Coordinated Plans.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Increasing Accessibility and Inclusion in 2013

At ESPA, we remain committed to furthering accessible transportation in our nation through the provision of technical assistance on the ADA. Over the past year, we produced over 20 new products, provided on-line and in-person training to over 2,000 customers, responded to roughly 3,000 technical assistance inquiries, and participated in over 70 events (e.g., trainings, large meetings and conferences). We also worked with our partners to further support work on specific initiatives, including youth transportation, the intersection of health and transportation, mobility management, and livability.

In cooperation with the Regional Transportation Authority of Chicago, for example, we launched a pilot program with the Chicago Public Schools Office of Special Education and Supports to implement and assess a comprehensive transportation education program to support the district’s transition services for students with disabilities. In the spring, ESPA managed and operated a national online dialogue on veterans’ transportation. Sponsored by the Federal Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility and the U.S. Department of Defense, the conversation was open to U.S. veterans, service members, their families, community service providers, and anyone else interested. We were honored to be a part of the effort to better understand the transportation needs of veterans and the discussion to improve transportation options for them.

ESPA looks forward to continuing to work with communities across the U.S. and our Federal partners in 2013. As a Federal Transit Administration technical assistance center on the ADA, we remain deeply committed to helping communities expand and develop transportation services that work for everyone in the community. As a transit director wrote to us this summer, “Our fixed-route driver training program was taken directly from ESPA's website as well, and has had a tremendous effect on how our drivers view all of our riders (not just the ones with visible disabilities).”  

Please visit our website, use our materials, attend our trainings, network with us at events, and let us know how we can continue to improve and expand what we do. We wish everyone a happy new year and look forward to supporting your communities as they further independence for all through fully-coordinated, accessible transportation systems!

Mary Leary
Vice President of the Easter Seals Transportation Group