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Access Matters: Adding Accessibility to Your DEI Work

Transportation plays a critical role in a person’s ability to access the services, programs, jobs, and support they need to live in their communities. A Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) strategy for a transportation agency is stronger when it is truly reflective of our community and services are usable and accessible to all people. Accessibility is a practice that allows the diversity of our community, including people with disabilities, to participate without barriers in transit programs and services. By having accessible services, transit is inclusive to all citizens by valuing the talents and skills of each community member. As a result of this DEI strategy, transit services are equitable to the broadest range of ethnicities, identities, abilities, and beliefs that make up our communities. 

When developing a DEI strategy, a question emerges: What is accessibility?  

The answer to this question is most powerful when it is expressed by riders with disabilities and drivers. Accessibility is often thought about as the physical design of buses, bus stops, stations, or sidewalks to make them usable by people with disabilities. This includes the development of information and communication technology that is functional and usable so that people can book rides. But true access includes a foundational value within a transit program that ensures all riders are treated with kindness and respect, and that no individual, regardless of abilities, is denied service.  

A tool that can be valuable for adding accessibility to any transit DEI work is the recently created series of videos from NADTC, called, “Access Matters.” The videos promote the importance of accessibility when training drivers and other staff to be more sensitive to the needs of people who are blind, deaf and have other disabilities who rely on public transportation. Though the videos were created for educating drivers about requirements for customer service to all riders of public transportation, they provide important messages on the meaning of accessibility and access that can be used when developing perspectives for DEI work.  

From the Access Matters videos, “What does access mean?” 

Rider Donna Smith, “Access matters because people matter. Access is a civil right.” 

Rider Meka White, “I can get to places. If there’s a bus, I can go there.”

Driver Lisa Nault, “Everybody has a connection. Access helps people live a full and better life.”

Rider Karen Magnussen, “We just need to keep our independence.”

Driver Will Stevenson, “Makes a person’s day. You go home and feel good about it.” 

Access Matters Video Series can be found on the NADTC Learning Center webpage. 

  1. Access Matters:  What Does Access Mean? 
  2. Access Matters:  Communication 
  3. Access Matters:  Various Disabilities 
  4. Access Matters:  Service Animals 
  5. Access Matters:  Different Types of Assistance 

In creating a DEI strategy and incorporating accessibility, these videos are a tool that can promote the importance of accessibility throughout your organization. Though intended for training drivers, these videos are also valuable when shown to maintenance employees, supervisors, call center staff, and dispatchers. After viewing the videos, staff will gain understanding as to why good customer service to all riders is essential and why access matters for a transit agency and the community. A follow-up discussion about accessibility can promote dialogue that produces additional insights and perspectives. If possible, offer opportunities where staff can view and discuss the videos with riders who have disabilities. 


Access Matters” is a series of videos created in partnership with and in dedication to Donna Smith (1959-2022). NADTC encourages accessibility to be incorporated into your DEI work and one way is to use these videos across all sectors of transportation service. 

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Heather Edmonds Washington, DC Recent comment authors
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Heather Edmonds Washington, DC