On a summer evening a few years ago a small group of travel instructors
were discussing the need for professional growth and how to best
fulfill that need. That same group of professionals formed the nucleus
for what we now proudly call, Consortium for the Educational Advancement
of Travel Instruction (CEATI). Our purpose is to provide professional
development, through a variety of venues, to those persons who provide
travel instruction to individuals with disabilities; other than blindness.
The ten board members of our consortium have similar philosophies
on the knowledge and demonstrable skills we feel are essential for
As in the development of any profession, there exist numerous beliefs
and personal opinions. We believe, however, that all travel instructors
have one common goal, and that is to provide training, or instruction,
to a person with a disability so that independence can be achieved
for safe travel in the community. What CEATI will offer through conferences
and workshops are professional development opportunities which will
continue to enhance the knowledge for travel instructors, related
professionals, and those interested in the field.
Why are specific competencies necessary for travel instructors?
Consider just one of many essential skills for an individual with
a disability to acquire that of crossing a street safely, and with
100% competency. Below is an edited excerpt from Street crossing
Issues for Persons with Cognitive Disabilities: Uncharted Waters,
Voorhees, Lister, 2005. (Given as a paper presentation for the Transportation
Research Board's 85th Annual Meeting, January 2006.)
What cognitive skills are necessary to cross a street safely? What
particular characteristics of cognitive impairments can make it more
challenging for individuals to cross? How do these differ from the
needs of people who use wheelchairs or have visual impairments?
It must be recognized that, for persons with cognitive impairments,
judgment and decision-making in an environment of risks, ambiguity,
and complexity can be difficult, incomplete or problematic.
The authors have identified that crossing safely requires that one
demonstrate the ability to identify, sort, and process information,
arrive at a decision, and do so in 30 seconds or less (independently,
Select all necessary information-visual/symbol, aural, verbal, text/written,
Process all necessary information.
Ignore non-relevant information.
Determine whether and when to begin crossing.
Identifying the intersection.
Identifying the crosswalk.
Recognizing and understanding the cue system governing that intersection
(traffic signal, pedestrian signal, absence or presence of a
turn signal, stop sign, signal activation button, etc.)
Identifying the appropriate time to begin crossing.
Identifying vehicles that may turn into pedestrian crosswalk,
and from which direction.
Assessing speed and travel paths of approaching vehicles.
Assessing duration of gaps between approaching vehicles.
Initiating crossing when safe, or deciding to wait for the next
Crossing safely also requires mobility skills--being able to move
quickly enough to cross during the walk and clearance interval. If
the crossing or intersection involves pedestrian island(s), the individual
may have to successfully perform each of these tasks all over again,
perhaps repeating them several times.
Some of the factors identified by the authors that can make it challenging
for persons with cognitive disabilities to cross include:
Ability to selectively attend to important features of the intersection:
Which information is relevant? Essential?
Information processing speed: Individuals with a cognitive disability
frequently require more time to process information.
Distractibility/concentration: One's ability to focus-to selectively
ignore stimuli--may be impaired. Thus certain types of traffic
signals, and environmental distracters such as loud music, colorful
signs or digital displays, can be problematic.
Pattern recognition among moving objects: It may also be difficult
for these individuals to judge the speed and/or distance of approaching
Recognition of elapsed time: How long have I been waiting here?
Will I have enough time to cross safely?
Fear/confusion: At locations such as shopping centers or other
busily- traveled roadways, there typically is a constant flow
of traffic. It is not unusual for persons who have a severe cognitive
impairment to only feel comfortable to make a decision to cross
in the complete absence of moving traffic.
Limited walking speed, or use of a mobility device.
The passage above outlines the skills in which travel instructors
must be competent when teaching a person with a disability to
travel. Travel instructors must demonstrate the ability to evaluate
the capabilities of the person referred for travel instruction.
The instructor must then be able to design and adjust instruction
to the individual receiving travel instruction.
We, as CEATI board members, approach our goals with a tremendous
amount of enthusiasm and a positive outlook. Our first conference
intends to provide fundamental knowledge necessary for any travel
instructor; whether they work within a school system, a rehabilitation
agency, community agency, an adult agency, or a transit system. Seminar
sessions are being provided by experienced travel instructors, and
we are thrilled to have the two keynote speakers who will share their
We look forward to seeing you in October. Please refer to our website
(link below) for a detailed agenda, registration forms, and contact
information. AND - please feel free to share our conference and contact
information with others who are interested in professional development
opportunities to further the profession of Travel Instruction. We
look forward to coming together to learn from one another!
by Jay Furlong, M.Ed.
If you work with persons who use mobility devices, this is a "can't
miss" training session.
The University of Pittsburgh Human Engineering Research Laboratory
(HERL) is one of the top programs in the world. At their facility
they use state of the art equipment to make sure that a client is
properly fitted into their new device. They also can do every test
imaginable to test the durability of a mobility device. Some of the
tests you may witness are:
A drop test (the mobility device is hoisted and then dropped).
A tire tread test.
The barometric chamber where they can make it rain, snow, or
test for extremes in temperature.
These are just a few of the unique capabilities you
will be able to see during the visit to HERL.
You will also be introduced to the current ANSI/RESNA WC 19 wheelchair
standards. If it is state of the art, chances are the Human Engineering
Research Laboratory had a role in the development and/or testing
of the equipment.
Not only will this be a great resource for future reference but
it will give the practioneer invaluable insights into the dynamics
of mobility devices and the impact on the people who use them. Click
on the HERL link below or on our website.
Travel Instructors who work with persons using mobility devices
not only have to be familiar with a plethora of various devices but
they must also have a working knowledge of how to properly secure
the devices when being transported on a mass transit vehicle. Many
people think they know how this should be done but that doesn't always
translate into what is safest for the client.
For those who wish to participate, there will be a hands-on program
on how to correctly secure a mobility device. This training will
be provided by Travel Instructors who have been certified by Q'Straint.
The Q"Straint Corporation is the industry leader in securements
for mobility devices. A certificate will be awarded to those who
complete the training at a competency level of 100%.
by Jim Shampoe, Transit Mobility Instructor - RTC of Southern Nevada
Have you ever been out training a client in a mobility device and
when you boarded the transit vehicle, the driver had no idea where
to place the vehicles safety securements to your client's wheelchair
or scooter? Do not feel like you are alone, this is a problem that
I have encountered many times and I have developed a solution to
Mobility device design has come a long way in a few short years,
but unfortunately some of the manufacturers are still not creating
obvious and safe securement areas on their mobility devices.
I have spent many hours on the phone speaking with the people responsible
for making these mobility devices and have expressed my concerns
to them about safety issues that come with boarding this type of
equipment on fixed route transit vehicles. One of the first responses
I usually get is that; "These mobility devices were not made
to go on public transportation." It's always nice to get the
legal ease out of the way right from the get go. We then go on to
discuss how important it is for such securement spots to exist on
these devices for the owners safety and to prevent damage to their
What it boils down to is that the manufacturers are worried about
liability which spills over to transit agencies and ultimately to
the client's themselves.
So what is the answer? I thought about this problem for a long time
and wondered what I could do to better protect my client, make sure
that their mobility device was not damaged, and lastly speed up the
boarding process and reduce liability claims for my employer The
Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada. I ultimately
looked to a program that was being run at Orange County Transit in
California and modified that program to fit our needs and S.A.F.E. "Securement
Assistance For Everyone" was born.
The RTC's S.A.F.E. Program consists of going out to a client's home
and securing high visibility nylon straps to their mobility devices.
These straps are installed by trained staff who have consulted with
mobility device manufacturers to locate the strongest points on the
mobility device to secure the straps to. Staff also takes pictures
of where the straps were installed to protect the transit agency
in case the client were to relocate them to a different part of their
mobility device and damage were to occur from that. Lastly, the client
signs a release form which relieves the transit agency from liability
in case of an accident on the transit vehicle.
The securement straps that are being used are manufactured by New
Haven Moving Company in New Haven Connecticut. These straps have
been tested to withstand a 30mph crash with an impact of 20 G's.
The main benefit of using these straps is that the client is secured
properly every single time that they board a transit vehicle; both
fixed route and paratransit. Secondary benefits are that drivers
are not securing to places on the mobility device that may damage
it. This in and of itself greatly reduces claims against the transit
agency and their contractor. Mobility devices are costly and most
of the people using them are on fixed budgets and are unable to go
out and buy a new one if theirs is damaged. Lastly, the program helps
to speed boarding and that saves the transit agency money by increasing
on time performance and helps change regular transit riders perceptions
of people using mobility devices on fixed route vehicles. Regular
transit riders usually hate seeing a person waiting at a transit
stop with a mobility device because they know the boarding process
will be time consuming, which could possibly make them miss transfers
and be late for work or appointments.
The money that the transit agency spends for these straps is greatly
outweighed by the benefits described above.
My program has been up and running for about two years now and we
get rave reviews from both clients and drivers.
I will be demonstrating this program's benefits during the "wheelchair
securement certification" portion of this year's CEATI Conference
in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania?. I hope to see you all there!