Earlier today, I blogged about older Americans and livability. Now, as we approach the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, I want to thank one of the groups DOT has been working with to make our communities more livable for the 54 million Americans with disabilities.
DOT has been a longtime partner with Easter Seals Project ACTION. And last week, a delegation from Project ACTION visited DOT headquarters to present us with a unique artwork created by local students with disabilities who attend WVSA ARTs connection's ARTiculate Employment Training and Outreach Program.
The artwork illustrates the transportation needs of youth with physical disabilities, and it was created in conjunction with local artist Jude Crannitch, who provided his skills and guidance to the students.
Created by Congress in 1988, Easter Seals Project ACTION promotes cooperation between the transportation industry and the disability community to increase mobility for people with disabilities under the ADA and beyond. For 22 years, they have been working to make accessible and reliable transportation a reality for Americans with disabilities.
And they have done so with Federal Transit Administration support.
We also talked about the October 2009 Easter Seals Project ACTION "Youth with Disabilities Transportation Roundtable. At that roundtable, students with disabilities, career transition specialists, parents, special education teachers, rehabilitation specialists and transportation providers developed a list of actions and resources needed to expand access to transportation services for youth with disabilities. As Easter Seals president James Williams told me:
"For years we've viewed education and employment as integral to a successful transition to independent living in adulthood. But it's transportation that literally links students with disabilities to schools, the workplace, and every other destination in community life. If they don't have access to transportation, independent living becomes impossible, and this list is a road map to improve that access."
From the roundtable list, Easter Seals Project ACTION crafted five core challenges that need to be solved to increase transportation options for youth with disabilities:
- Share information about transportation resources with youth.
- Train youth to use public transportation.
- Expand limited public transportation service on nights and weekends.
- Include student and school transportation issues in local transportation planning.
- Help planners learn about the family of transportation services, eligibility criteria, and funding streams available.
I know that Easter Seals Project ACTION will continue to shine a light on youth transportation issues. Just as I know they will continue sharing resources to enhance the mobility of America's youth with disabilities.
I'm glad Project ACTION chose to share their artwork with us in thanks for our support over the years. But I think they're the ones doing the heavy lifting on this important issue.