In Kalamazoo, Michigan, an older woman who has a spinal cord injury and who uses a power wheelchair wants to visit a friend across town. But she doesn’t have the skills to take public transportation. With the help of a travel trainer at the local independent living center, she learns to make the trip.
In Tacoma, Washington, a young man with a cognitive disability receives travel training services from his local transit agency to learn how to use fixed-route buses safely and on his own. As a result, he is able to commute daily across town to his new job at the YMCA.
In New York City, a young woman with cerebral palsy and a speech impairment approaches high school graduation with the promise of a job but with no way to get there. After an assessment by professional travel trainers, this young woman receives intensive training to use a primary and an alternate subway route independently to her work site.
Success stories like these occur each day in communities across the nation. Individuals with a variety of physical and developmental disabilities, as well as seniors, learn to use fixed-route public transportation safely and independently from travel instructors and travel trainers who are members of the Association of Travel Instruction (ATI).
At ATI’s August 15-17, Minneapolis conference, travel instructors and travel trainers and other attendees will hear presentations on developments in their profession. One session will focus on the polytraumatic injuries being sustained by many Iraq and Afghanistan conflict veterans, and their need for appropriate travel training services.
Individuals with disabilities and seniors learn travel skills while following a specific route, typically to a school, job, or recreation site. Travel training professionals must be able to determine how different disabilities affect a person’s ability to travel. These professionals must develop appropriate methods to teach travel skills dependent upon individual needs.
Other presentation topics include the development of a GPS device to enhance successful travel for persons with developmental disabilities; the impact of certain medications on disabled persons’ ability to use public transportation safely; tools for growing a high school-based travel training program; progress in the development of a factory-built wheelchair accessible taxi/ADA paratransit vehicle; a round table discussion on “stranger/danger” issues facing travelers with varying disabilities; and, a second round-table session about providing travel training services in real/perceived high crime areas.
ATI also includes a networking social event—a forum in which travel instructors and travel trainers informally share best practices with one another—and a Saturday evening closing banquet complete with entertainment. ATI conference registration information is available at www.travelinstruction.org
ATI is an inclusive association, with membership open to anyone interested in the accessible transportation field.