Wednesday, April 5, 2017

NEWS - Feb. 26,  2019

At Transit Planning 4 All, we are always interested in new and inventive strategies to engage people with disabilities, older adults, particular communities within those populations, targeted communities, or the general public. We examine such strategies with eye to increasing both the scope of engagement and the depth of involvement, especially for older adults and people with disabilities, so that engagement becomes a source of ideas, advice, and leadership.

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These strategies do not have to involve transportation or transit planning because often, though not always, public engagement methods are transferrable no matter the type of planning concerned.

Welcoming App Development Process for People with Disabilities Affecting Ability to Communicate 

An app has been developed to assist law enforcement with identifying and communicating with people whose disabilities render them unable or with difficulty communicating or communicating verbally under stress. Numerous incidents of individuals being killed, shot, or otherwise injured at the hands of police and first responders caused the app developer to figure out a way that would send a message - without the need for an inquiry of any kind - that a person is unable to communicate at all, in particular situations, or is unable to know that he or she is being engaged in communication. Examples include, but are not limited to, people who are deaf, people with autism and some intellectual disabilities, or even those with noise sensitivity.

What is striking, however, is not only the app itself, which has possibilities beyond first responders, but the process for its development.
To get the broadest perspective on the issue, the development team held numerous focus groups and meetings with parents, caregivers, educators and other members of the community. When they met with [Janee] Harteau[, a retired chief of police], the potential of the app became real. Along with a 31-year career in law enforcement, Harteau brought a passion for fostering positive relationships between police and the communities they serve. 
Harteau instantly recognized that the communication gap was not just a law enforcement problem, but a community problem that could best be addressed by bringing the whole community together to keep citizens with visible and invisible disabilities safe.
The end result of the inclusive app development process is an app that allows a person with a disability or his or her family to enter a person's profile that includes "known triggers and de-escalation techniques," a video to the individual communicating that the first responder is present to help, and contact and other information to enable the first responder to better communicate with the individual.

Inclusive Public Engagement ≠ Just Meetings

If you think that engaging the public or a particular group means luring them to meetings, giving them snacks, and letting them ask a few questions, think again. Instead, consider using the public you want to engage to develop a valuable database of information. Such rich information can then be used for both small-scale and systemic improvements.

Delaware's statewide transit agency, DART, has collaborated with the University of Delaware to create "three map-based crowdsourcing tools on first mile/last mile bus stop accessibility."  DART is asking riders and pedestrians, including users of mobility devices, to download an app and input data about the presence and condition of bus shelters and the accessibility of intersections, sidewalks and curbs, all the way from the bus stop location to home, work, or another destination. The information and comments contributed will be collated to contribute to better first-mile-last-mile access to transit.
The information will be used to develop a Coordinated Public Transit-Human Services Transportation Plan, or Coordinated Plan, for Delaware. The CP will serve as a strategic framework for addressing the state’s existing and future mobility needs. Information collected from the crowdsourcing tools will help to identify needed bus stop accessibility improvements related to pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, ADA accessibility and connectivity.
What about people who have never participated in crowdsourcing?

DART has created a series of six videos that briefly discuss why transit is important, why the transit agency needs regular people to participate in the crowdsourcing project, and how to use the crowdsourcing apps. While it is true that not everyone has a smartphone or is able to use an app, a crowdsourcing tool can be a valuable piece of the public engagement puzzle that meets people where they are and allows them to contribute their judgments and information about the conditions in their communities.

Transportation and Easy Transportation Info Both Lacking for Older Adults and People with Disabilities

press release from the National Aging and Disability Transportation Center (NADTC) about its nationwide survey finds:
[O]lder adults and people with disabilities are facing significant transportation-related challenges once they no longer drive. They feel there is a lack of accessible and reliable transportation alternatives, which prevents them from doing the things they need and want to do and leaves them feeling frustrated, isolated and trapped. 
With more than 1 in 5 Americans older than age 65 not driving, demand for transportation is steadily increasing as the boomer population continues to grow. Given that 600,000 people stop driving every year, there is no end to the challenge in sight. To address the growing demand for transportation services and the concern that there are insufficient resources and information available to help, the National Aging and Disability Transportation Center (NADTC) has launched the "Every Ride Counts" campaign, a national effort to increase awareness of local transportation options for older adults and people with disabilities in communities across the United States.
None of the survey findings about quality-of-life consequences of deciding or being unable to drive will be a surprise to anyone who works in transportation, but they give context to the personal cost of transportation dependence, lack of choice, and living without independence to spontaneously travel in one's community and beyond. For example, "Giving up driving makes older adults and younger adults living with disabilities feel dependent on others (63 percent, 70 percent), frustrated (39 percent, 65 percent), isolated (33 percent, 55 percent), and trapped (30 percent, 54 percent)."

Transportation Services and Easy Access to Info About Them Count

To help transportation providers, non-profits, and other organizations that enable older adults, people with disabilities, and sometimes the general public, to travel, but which lack resources for marketing and other outreach, NADTC's Every Ride Counts basically offers an easy usable public relations campaign template with posters, postcards, social media posts and graphics, and advertisements. While the materials, do not magically produce transportation where it is needed, they do assist in solving the problem of alerting individuals to transit and transportation services that do exist.

My Mobility Plan Goes to the Individual

MyMobility Plan makes available a practical checklist for older adults or anyone who might be giving up driving or transitioning to living with a disability. The plan is customizable for organizations to insert their names and contact information. It asks individuals about transportation options beyond driving and it addresses other issues that affect continued independence, including exercise and safety in the home.

MyMobility Plan is a product of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


The mission of the Transit Planning 4 All project, sponsored by the Administration for Community Living, is to demonstrate the value that inclusive processes can bring to community transportation efforts. For publications and information that demonstrate the range and possibilities of inclusive planning projects, visit the Resources page of this website.