IN THIS ISSUE: *The Community Inclusion Driver Strategy *Flexible Routes in Rural Communities *Serving Customers with Disabilities on America’s Motorcoaches *ESPA Hosts Meeting on Training Strategies for the Motorcoach Industry *Easter Seals Project ACTION Participates in NOYS Meeting *NTI Offers Paratransit Eligibility Course *Video Description: Facts and Future *ESPA Fact Sheet Available in Spanish *Clearinghouse Corner *54th UITP Exhibition *New ESPA Staff *New NSC Members Appointed The Community Inclusion Driver Strategy Transportation has always been a problem for people with disabilities living in remote rural areas. If you are a person with a disability living in a rural area, you know how hard it can be to be a part of your community. You may have a problem finding transportation to work, to the doctor, to the grocery store, to school, or to other community activities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990 to prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities in private sector employment, all public services, public accommodations, transportation, and telecommunications. The ADA defines a person with a disability as someone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits that person in a major life activity such as working, seeing, hearing, breathing, learning, speaking, walking, self-care, and manual tasks. The ADA recognizes that individuals with disabilities have the same fundamental rights afforded to all U.S. citizens under the Constitution even if they live in rural communities where there is no organized transportation. The Community Inclusion Driver strategy is a system for helping individuals find and secure transportation in their rural community. It is an arrangement that brings together a consumer with a disability, a transportation provider, and an independent driver in a negotiated agreement for providing transportation services in remote rural areas where public transportation services cannot be expanded or do not exist. Here's how the community inclusion driver strategy works: the local transportation provider agrees to work with people with disabilities in the community to secure personal transportation in areas where there is limited or no public transportation available to people with disabilities. Eligibility and Training When an individual applies to participate in the program, he will be asked to provide documentation of his disability such as a doctor's statement or proof that he has met some other disability determination requirement for an agency such as vocational rehabilitation or Medicaid. Other eligibility requirements may depend on the participating transportation agency, its funding sources, administration of the program, and the area being served. Once an individual is determined eligible, the transportation provider will briefly train him on how to use the program and on safety issues. Driver Recruitment The consumer may be asked to identify individuals with dependable vehicles who might be interested in being drivers. These people might be family members, friends, neighbors, or people in the community with the time and the interest in providing rides to people with disabilities. These drivers will be reimbursed for their mileage. To be eligible to be a driver, a person must meet license, vehicle, insurance, safety, and other requirements set by the transportation provider. The vehicle he intends to use must pass operation and safety requirements. Drivers will receive training in program procedures and emergency planning. Once the driver has been accepted into the program and has been identified for the consumer, a transportation provider representative will meet with both the consumer and the driver so they can sign an agreement. Important Issues for the Consumer People with disabilities have different needs and requirements. The consumer should assist the transportation provider and the driver in helping him with his transportation needs, by being prepared to answer some of the following questions: - Do you use a wheelchair or a walker? - Are you visually impaired and need help with forms? - Are you hearing impaired and need access to a TTY? - Do you take medication? - Do you have seizures? This type of information is necessary for the transportation provider to offer the best service possible. Caretakers/Personal Care Attendants/Service Animals/Children Some people with disabilities have a family member, personal care attendant, or service animal with them at all times. The consumer should inform the transportation provider and the driver if he has a personal care attendant or service animal. He should also tell the transportation provider and the driver if he is a parent and will have children with him when he uses transportation services. Knowing these things will prevent confusion for the provider, driver, and most importantly, the consumer. Emergency Plan It is important to have an emergency plan in place with the transportation provider in the event the consumer should experience a medical problem. The consumer should advise the provider of the name of the person to be called in case of an emergency. All parties must be prepared to act quickly if an emergency situation presents itself. Paperwork/Record Keeping The consumer will be responsible for providing information about himself and his needs to the transportation provider as he applies for the program. The consumer will also be required to keep good records of his trips. Please remember good record keeping will make the program operate better for everyone. Being a Good Passenger Used correctly, the Community Inclusion Driver strategy can take the consumer exactly where he needs to go - to work, job training, school, the doctor, the grocery store, a community or church event, maybe even the movies. Good communication is also essential to a successful Community Inclusion Driver program. The consumer must make sure that he: -Is straightforward with the transportation provider; -Understands his responsibilities in the program; -Is informed on liability issues and on safety issues and procedures; -Is clear in giving information and guidance to the driver; and -Is available for training and flexible when possible with his scheduling. For more information on the Community Inclusion Driver strategy, contact Easter Seals Project ACTION at email@example.com. *Note: For clarity of discussion, masculine pronouns have been used in this article and are meant to be inclusive of both genders. Flexible Routes in Rural Communities Many Americans do not have access to transportation, especially in rural areas. Fixed-route public transportation services typically serve populations where there is a residential density high enough to warrant the expenditure of funds to operate that service. Route designs are heavily dependent upon fare revenues to justify their existence. Therefore, many rural areas are not included in fixed-route transportation plans. Persons with disabilities who live in these rural areas are not likely to have vehicles that they can drive themselves. Many of these people wrongly assume that the ADA requires accessible transportation for them in their communities. While this is a true statement where there is an existing fixed-route transportation system, there is nothing in the ADA that requires any transportation services to be provided at all where no service currently exists. When there is a service, it must meet the accessibility standards stated by the USDOT. Some regions have a low instance of special transportation demand and can accommodate that demand via their fixed- route system if it were able to make stops closer to the origins and destinations of the passengers with disabilities. Complementary paratransit services is one method of providing accessible services to persons with disabilities, but it is more cost intensive to set up and operate than a fixed-route system. Some transportation agencies began to expand their complementary paratransit capacity by deviating their fixed-route buses to make occasional pickups and drop-offs that were not on the designed route. However, with this route deviation came a lower level of predictability and timeliness for the bus routes. In order to identify ways to accommodate the needs of persons with disabilities with respect to public transportation in rural areas, Crain & Associates, of San Carlos, CA responded to Easter Seals Project ACTION’s request for proposals to develop technical assistance tools in the third year of funding for Technical Assistance Development projects. Crain & Associates was contracted to develop the concept and write a “Rural Flex-route Handbook” to address these needs. The best way to distinguish the flex-route concept from deviated fixed-route service is that it is the opposite: deviated fixed-route buses primarily serve the general public and make service stops for qualified persons with disabilities. Flex-route service is first and primarily a reservation paratransit service that also serves the general public on the side. For bus operators in rural areas, a flex-route can be the answer to providing transit to the general public living in remote sections of the service area. Fixed routes in very rural areas make no economic sense. There is no logical route pattern and the cost to serve such dispersed origins is prohibitive. Also for cost reasons, door-to-door demand responsive service may be impossible to provide. Also, fares might need to be set too high to be reasonable or attractive to riders, and the transit operator may not have adequate tax dollars to cover such a high level of service. A flex-route solves these problems by starting with a core of riders funded by agencies with which the transit operator has a contract. For example, an agency serving adults with developmental disabilities may have a group of clients that are picked up at their homes every day and transported to a workshop. Instead of dedicating one bus to pick up the group of clients, the route may be split in two according to geographic areas. Bus stops can then be posted in each geographic area along this known, daily route. One bus can pick up half of the clients funded by the disabilities agency as usual, with extra seats for the general public to board at the bus stops. The bus may also serve several occasional clients funded by other agencies, such as Medicaid or welfare-to-work programs. The second bus will do the same in a different geographic area. This flex-route arrangement provides a stable source of funding for the route. The semblance of a fixed-route with stops is created out of the pattern set by the door-to- door service for daily clients. Rides are affordable to the general public, who need only pay a nominal fare, because the basic cost of the service is already funded by the contracting agency. Benefits to Public Transit Operators A flex-route helps public transit operators better fulfill their mission of providing mobility to residents and taxpayers in their service areas. An operator can offer more services to more people by combining funded clients and private-pay clients in the same vehicle. Existing rolling stock is used more efficiently by: Reducing Duplicative Routing -- Two vehicles are not passing each other on essentially the same route with clients from different agencies. Decreasing Miles Travelled -- Instead of criss-crossing the county with vehicles dedicated to specific funding sources, vehicles are assigned by geographic areas. Filling Empty Seats - Seats that are not filled by funded clients are available to the general public. Creating New Revenue -- Passenger fares collected from the general public can offset existing expenses, with no new costs incurred. The benefit to the rider of implementing a flex-route system is that services to the general public (especially in remote, rural areas) become possible and affordable where they were not before. Serving Customers with Disabilities on America’s Motorcoaches Staff Writer Easter Seals Project ACTION in partnership with the American Bus Association recently announced the availability of a new customer service guide for use by motorcoach and travel industry employees who interact with customers with disabilities. ADA Training Program for Motorcoach Companies Pocket Guide provides a general overview. Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta applauded Easter Seals Project ACTION and the American Bus Association for giving the motorcoach industry a hands-on tool it needs to comply not only with the letter of ADA, but with its spirit as well, through excellent customer service.” The transportation provisions of the ADA guarantee individuals equal access to the same services and programs that are available to the general public, in both public and private transportation services. On September 28, 1998, the Department of Transportation issued ADA regulations for the motorcoach industry. These regulations require complete accessibility of new motorcoaches and the availability of motorcoach service to people with disabilities. Regulations for the purchase/lease of new motorcoaches went into effect on October 30, 2000 for large fixed-route motorcoach companies and will go into effect October 29, 2001 for small fixed-route motorcoach companies. ADA regulations for delivering accessible motorcoach service go into effect in October 2001 for large fixed-route, charter, tour and other demand responsive motorcoach companies. The regulations go into effect for small operators in October 2002. After these dates, companies must provide service in an accessible coach to a passenger who requests it and gives 48 hours’ notice. Small companies may provide equivalent service, instead of acquiring accessible coaches. Equivalent service may be provided in an alternate vehicle (e.g. a van), provided that the service allows passengers to travel in their own wheelchairs. The ADA requires that motorcoach companies assist persons who use wheelchairs in getting on and off non-accessible coaches. Boarding assistance must also be provided at rest stops. If all securement locations on the coach are occupied, additional wheelchair passengers must be offered the opportunity to transfer to a seat (and store their wheelchair). Customers with Disabilities Under the ADA, one definition of a person with a disability is: An individual with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as: Breathing Seeing Hearing Speaking Walking Working Caring for Oneself Learning Performing Manual Tasks Examples of protected disabilities under the ADA include: mobility limitations; blindness or visual impairments; deafness or hearing impairments; speech impairments; cognitive impairments; mental retardation; Alzheimer’s disease; traumatic brain injury; learning disabilities; epilepsy; Tourette’s syndrome; mental illness, and others. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, it is considered discrimination for a motorcoach company to: •Deny transportation to individuals with disabilities (exception: It is not discrimination to refuse to provide service to an individual with a disability because that individual engages in violent, seriously disruptive or illegal conduct). ·Refuse to provide service to an individual with a disability solely because the disability results in the appearance or involuntary behavior that may offend, annoy, or inconvenience the company’s employees or other persons. ·Use or request the use of persons other than employees (family members, companions, and medical/public safety personnel) for boarding or assistance to passengers with disabilities, unless the passenger requests or consents to assistance from such persons. ·Require or request a passenger with a disability to reschedule his/her trip/travel time in order to receive transportation. ·Fail to provide reservation services to passengers with disabilities equivalent to those provided to other passengers. ·Require that a passenger with a disability use designated priority seats, if the passenger does not choose to use them. ·Require that a passenger with a disability travel with an attendant. ·Impose special charges on individuals with disabilities, including those who use wheelchairs, for providing services that are required or necessary to accommodate them. (For example: charging a group requesting an accessible coach a higher price than you would a group using an inaccessible coach). ·Refuse to serve an individual with a disability because its insurance company conditions coverage or rates on the absence of persons with disabilities. ·Fail or refuse to comply with any of the applicable ADA regulations. Communicating with Customers with Disabilities All customers want and expect good, safe service. Customers with disabilities have the same expectations, and the ADA requires courteous and respectful treatment of persons with disabilities. Proper communication with people with disabilities is a part of good customer service. Use “people first” language:always refer to the “person first.” For example, say “person who uses a wheelchair,” “person with a visual disability,” etc. Training All motorcoach company employees must be trained to meet the needs of customers with disabilities. Under the ADA, training must address the human service aspects of service delivery to individuals with disabilities and the technical operation of accessibility equipment. The ADA requires that personnel are trained to proficiency, as appropriate to their duties, so that they operate vehicles and equipment safely and properly assist and treat individuals in a courteous and respectful way, with appropriate attention to the differences among individuals. Easter Seals Project ACTION is here to help. We offer technical assistance, training and products for the transportation industry, including motorcoach operators and companies, and individuals with disabilities. This includes pocket guides, videos and training materials that are provided free of charge. If you are interested in being added to our mailing list, or want a copy of the pocket handbook, please call 1 (800) 659- 6428 or (202) 347-3066. You may also reach us via fax (202) 737-7914 or by visiting our website at www.projectaction.org. ESPA Hosts Meeting on Training Strategies for the Motorcoach Industry Easter Seals Project ACTION (ESPA) sponsored a one-day meeting on training strategies for the motorcoach industry, in cooperation with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). A diverse group of twenty-five individuals representing various motorcoach companies, disability organizations, motorcoach membership organizations, and the U.S. Departments of Transportation and Justice attended. The primary goals of the event were to determine the training needs of the motorcoach industry and strategies for meeting those needs, as well as exploring opportunities for facilitating information exchange as the motorcoach industry implements the ADA accessibility regulations for motorcoaches and motorcoach service. Blane Workie, an attorney with the Department of Transportation’s General Counsel’s Office provided an overview of the motorcoach accessibility regulations contained in a pamphlet “Small Business Guidance: An Overview of the DOT Final Rule on the Accessibility of Over-the Road Buses” which is currently available from US Department of Transportation. Participants discussed the need for further guidance from the Department on interpreting and implementing the accessibility regulations. Ms. Workie offered to relay these concerns to the appropriate staff in the Office of Regulation and Enforcement. Sue Masselink, with the Federal Transit Administration’s Office of Program Management, spoke about the Over the Road Bus Accessibility Grant Program, which provides funds on a competitive basis to defray the incremental costs of complying with the accessibility regulations. Through large and small group discussions, the participants identified nine broad areas to be addressed to meet the needs of the industry: training; information/resources; marketing; program evaluation; safety/standards; policy/legislation; consumer training/wayfinding marketing and strategies for improving attitudes towards people with disabilities. Once they selected the broad issue areas, participants developed strategies and resource ideas to address those needs. Easter Seals Project ACTION staff will synthesize the information gathered during the meeting and the priorities identified by the group as a whole to revise its current training material for dissemination to the widest possible audiences within the disability community and the motorcoach industry. Easter Seals Project ACTION Participates in NOYS Meeting Staff Writer Easter Seals Project ACTION participated in a planning meeting held by the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) in Washington, DC on March 3, 2001. NOYS is a collaboration of approximately 40 youth-serving organizations, including non-profit organizations and government agencies, with the goal of promoting safe and healthy behaviors among our nation’s youth. Its mission is to marshal resources and build synergistic partnerships that save lives, prevent injuries and promote healthy lifestyles among youth. The purpose of the planning meeting was to identify topics and speakers that would be of interest to young people. Youth representatives from hundreds of organizations across the country took an active role in outlining the program agenda, selecting speakers, and identifying key topic areas for discussion. Easter Seals Project ACTION’s representative is Miss Angela Hammonds, a dynamic fifteen year-old freshman at Woodrow Wilson Senior High School in Washington, DC. During the two-day planning meeting, Angela addressed various issues facing youth with disabilities and specifically highlighted areas concerning transportation safety. Angela will represent ESPA at the National Youth Diversity Summit on Transportation Safety, sponsored by NOYS and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The summit will be held in Universal City, CA, July 26-29, 2001. NTI Offers Paratransit Eligibility Course The National Transit Institute (NTI) is offering its Comprehensive Paratransit Eligibility course. The course is designed to address several eligibility determination issues. It provides a basic review of eligibility requirements, reviews alternative eligibility determination processes, provides a forum for answering questions about “difficult” determinations and issues, and presents the benefits and issues associated with in-person interviews and assessments. For more information, visit the NTI website at www.ntionline.com. 2001 Course Dates and Locations April 23-25, 2001SEPTA Philadelphia, PA May 14-16, 2001 New Orleans RTA New Orleans, LA June 13-15, 2001 Metroplan Orlando Orlando, FL August 8-10, 2001 Metropolitan Council St. Paul, MN October 10-12, 2001 Intercity Transit Olympia, WA November 14-16, 2001 Omnitrans San Bernardino, CA Video Description: Facts and Future The American Council of the Blind Video description is the use of narration during natural pauses in dialog to let a person not able to see the screen know what is happening. If there is music playing, for example, and the bad guy leaves an envelope in an obvious hiding place and then shows up at a meeting of the National Security Council, a visually impaired viewer would not catch it and lose a major piece of the plot. Public television has been using increasing amounts of video description since the mid 1980s. In addition, Turner Classic Movies has a regular Sunday evening presentation of time honored movies that are video described. Other examples include some movies produced with a video description track such as Titanic. On television, the narration comes over a secondary audio programming channel that is normally off unless switched on for persons wanting it. In movie theaters, a visually impaired person can use a special radio receiver with earphones to listen to the narration. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has recently required that the major networks and cable channels present at least four hours of described programming per week starting in April of 2002. Studios such as Sony, Buena Vista, Universal Paramount, and Miramax are taking a leadership role in providing increased amounts of described narration. The National Association of Broadcasters, joined by the National Cable TV Association and the Motion Picture Association of America, has brought a legal action to challenge the right of the FCC to order such programming. This litigation is aided by a second lawsuit from the National Federation of the Blind equally challenging the FCC rule. It should be noted that the participation of the Motion Picture Association of America in the lawsuit is most likely based upon their having to describe movies that will ultimately be presented on television. The American Council of the Blind has been trying to get video description for over 15 years on the basis that it affords blind people with the same access to information on television that viewers take for granted. Other groups and advocates for the blind such as the American Foundation for the Blind, the Blinded Veterans Association, the Washington Ear, The National Center for Accessible Media, and Narrative Television Network, have also supported the service for much the same reason. The FCC order only came after the industry basically ignored the issue for those 15 years. While there are strong and convincing legal arguments that we believe will be successfully made in defense of the FCC action, the industry must also hear from the court of public opinion to truly understand the errors they have made. Consider yourself and your family. Should anyone lose vision to the point where he/she needs to have television and movie events described, would this not be best accomplished by a professional service that comes with the program? There is not always someone else around to describe what is happening visually. Especially at movie theaters, the rest of the audience does not need to hear someone describing the visual action. Also consider that vision loss is a common occurrence with aging and video description is a way to guarantee that those who encounter vision loss will not be left out of the ability to enjoy television and movies in much the same way they always did. You can contact your local television stations and tell their managers that you don’t think they should have the National Association of Broadcasters fight video description. You can call your local movie theater owners and let them know you think they should have the video description, which goes for about $2,000, above the closed captioning equipment in their theater and that they should let the Motion Picture Association know they should drop their objections to this important service. In addition, you can write to your local newspaper and let the rest of your community know about this service and how it is threatened by industry associations that have shown negative interest in doing it even though they know its value. You can go on the web and send email to the industry associations and your Congressional representatives and Senators to let them know of your support of video description. You can write to those who do commercials on television and suggest to them that they should be telling broadcasters that they expect this service in the programs they sponsor. You can ask your churches, social clubs and fraternal organizations such as Lions Club to communicate to the broadcasters and movie producers as well. ESPA Fact Sheet Available in Spanish Hot off the presses! Easter Seals Project ACTION now offers its fact sheet in Spanish. If you are interested in receiving a copy, contact VJ Williams at 800-659-6428 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Clearinghouse Corner Easter Seals Project ACTION has more than 100 documents available through its clearinghouse. As new products become available we will feature them in this section of the newsletter. Following is an abstract of one of the newest publications currently available. ~ ACTION Map System Handbook ~Baruch College Computer Center for Visually Impaired People The Computer Center for Visually Impaired People (CCVIP) at Baruch College has developed a handbook, together with the Action Map System software to give you the tools you need to begin to identify the travel information that will be of particular help to your customers with visual impairments. The documentation handbook features the following items: •A discussion of the basic principles that guide the creation of effective tactile maps; •A discussion of the four basic types of transit maps, and the particular function served by each; •Complete documentation for the Action Map System software from installation through utilization; •A complete library of legends showing all the symbols available for each map category; •Samples of each of the various types of maps discussed; and •A guide for taking the specialized information gathered for your Action Maps,and transferring it verbally into your existing travel information resource. Many of the map symbols and design strategies discussed here have been proven extremely robust in five years of use by customers in the New York City Transit environment. Others have been newly crafted for this particular project. This product, when used properly by local transit properties in collaboration with the experts at Baruch College CCVIP has the potential to yield a process for map development that can be disseminated nationally. The result can be the beginning of a set of universally recognized travel tools for people who are visually impaired. That is to say, a staircase symbol shown on a map in Tacoma will be the same one in Port Jefferson or in Jersey City. Crucial to the success of the work, however, will be commitment and integration of the entire map development team. The Orientation and Mobility specialist, the AutoCAD professional, transit officials and members of the visually impaired community are essential players and must function as a working unit, if the end products are to be useful. The development of this program is one way of building effective relationships between transit and the disability community that will foster access solutions that are both economical and effective. As you begin your program of map development, you are truly leading the way in bringing that promise to fruition. For more information on the Action System Map, contact Easter Seals Project ACTION. 54th UITP Mobility and City Transport Exhibition ESPA is participating in the 54th UITP Mobility and City Transport Exhibition, May 21-24, 2001, London, England. Founded in 1885, UITP International Union (Association) of Public Transport is the international organization for public transport authorities, policy decision-makers, operators scientific institutes and the public transport industry. It is responsible for worldwide cooperation and the sharing of information and knowledge between its members on all five continents. The members of UITP meet regularly to examine and solve problems in public transport in numerous seminars, standing commissions and international conferences. UITP also publishes a wide range of studies, newsletters, and periodicals such as the magazine Public Transport International. New ESPA Staff ESPA has two new team members. Karen Nnamani, Administrative Manager, joins ESPA from the American Council on Education. Amy Pass, Librarian, was formerly with the National Skill Standards Board. Join us in welcoming them! New NSC Members Appointed Easter Seals Project ACTION recently announced the appointment of nine new national steering committee members. They include: - Michael Auberger, Atlantis, ADAPT, - Charles Dickson, Community Transportation Association of America, - Patti Hackett, Academy for Educational Development, - Shawn McDermott, National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, - James McLary, McLary Management & Investment, - Beverly Morris, MTA – New York City Transit, - Shelly Pfaff, South Dakota Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities, - Doug Towne, Caring and Sharing Center for Independent Living, Inc., and - Michael Townes, Hampton Roads Transit.