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The Inclusion of Travel Training in Transition Services

Transportation plays an integral role in our everyday lives. Many individuals with disabilities rely on accessible transportation or are often dependent on others to access everyday essentials. Many avoid using transportation services because they lack the knowledge or skills to access them. Travel training can be a valuable tool in helping navigate transportation options and services, offering independence and access to secondary education, work, shopping and helping to avoid social isolation. Including a travel training component in transition services can provide students the opportunity to plan for their future, allowing them to travel independently.

A Travel Trainer in a blue shirt talking to a young person in a plaid shirt.

Credit: Via Mobility Services Boulder, CO

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) can play a fundamental role in helping students with disabilities gain access to various supportive services available to them.  IDEA requires public school systems to provide transition services to students with disabilities, to prepare them for the transition from school and into adult life. While accessible transportation and travel training are not specifically addressed within IDEA, The National Association of Special Education Teachers (NASET) recognizes that the “use of available transportation services may be critical to a student’s transition into the adult world”, helping them gain access to secondary education, the workforce, health care, and social events. Special education teachers, school administrators, and transit agencies can work together to build the self-confidence and travel ability of students with disabilities and their families by offering travel training in their transition services.

The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) (ADA Accessible Transportation Factsheet) requires public transportation systems become more accessible to people with disabilities.  These requirements are important to the safety and ease of use for individuals with disabilities and include the scheduling of trips, constructing bus stops, and setting system policies to name a few. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Section 5310 Program specifically focuses on older adults and people with disabilities, and funding can be used to develop travel training activities, and support staff time, marketing efforts, bus fares or whatever the program might need if the state allows this use. The NADTC compiled a FTA Section 5310 Compendium of best practices which includes an informational brief specific to travel training.

Access to transportation can enhance opportunities for a student with disabilities to improve their ability to live full independent lives. For someone with a disability, either physical or cognitive, access to transportation can be a vital linkage to health care appointments, secondary education, grocery shopping, and recreational or social activities. Across the country, transportation agencies are using travel training as an educational tool to help customers access transportation services. Below are some other examples of ways transportation programs can partner in educating students with disabilities on local transportation options:

  • Attend events like a local school system’s open house, to educate parents and students about the transportation services and travel training programs available.
  • Participate in job fairs offered at the local high school in your service area. This can be a great opportunity to distribute marketing materials and discuss transportation options with students and teachers.
  • Form partnerships between transportation agencies, public school systems, local colleges, and employers to offer discounted or free bus passes for students and employees.
  • Contact Special Education teachers to provide travel training activities to their classes and encourage the inclusion of family members of transition age students.
  • Connect with local secondary education programs to offer travel training and market services through their website, admissions department, and faculty.

Navigating a transportation system can be intimidating to new riders, especially individuals with disabilities. Travel training can enhance a rider’s confidence in traveling on their own and broaden their ability to access the services they need independently.

On August 23, 2023, the National Aging and Disability Transportation Center (NADTC) hosted an Office Hours discussion “Helping Transition-Age Youth Overcome Barriers Through Travel Training.” Keith Fox, Transitions Coordinator for Easterseals Crossroads Transitions Services shared his travel training knowledge and experiences, partnering with transit agencies and school systems throughout his 19-year experience.  The recorded session can be found at




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