U.S. DOT Announces Accessible Transportation Technologies Research Initiative Application Development Awards

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has awarded six application development research contracts, totaling $6.185 million* for a period of performance through FY 2019, under its Accessible Transportation Technologies Research Initiative (ATTRI) to improve mobility options for all travelers, particularly those with disabilities.

ATTRI is a multimodal departmental effort that has been at the leading edge of identifying and developing transformative transportation applications for all disabilities. “ATTRI’s success depends on working cooperatively with other agencies as well as the private sector,” said Michael F. Trentacoste, Associate Administrator for Research, Development and Technology; Director, Turner Fairbank Highway Research Center. “We recognize the interdisciplinary nature of accessible transportation research and actively seek opportunities to leverage resources, accomplishments, and knowledge advances both within the USDOT and across federal agencies. We can’t do this alone.”

In 2016, ATTRI issued a Broad Agency Announcement soliciting proposals for development of applications that will lead to transformational changes and revolutionary advances in accessible transportation, personal mobility, and independent travel for all travelers, offering a totally new travel experience in intermodal surface transportation in the United States.

With nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population comprising individuals with disabilities, and other demographic trends such as the increasing number of aging Americans, USDOT recognized the importance of exploring innovative mobility options. Emerging technologies and creative service models can offer all Americans enhanced travel choices and accessibility at levels once only imagined.

USDOT is making a significant investment to bring creative solutions to travelers with disabilities and to engage other federal agencies and public-private entities in testing and deploying ATTRI applications in the coming months.

USDOT reviewed a total of 34 proposals and granted the following awards in three application technology areas—wayfinding and navigation, pre-trip and concierge services, and safe intersection crossing:

“The ATTRI program, and the innovators taking part in this important program, are working to make mobility more accessible to all Americans, including those with disabilities,” said Vince Valdes, Federal Transit Administration Associate Administrator for Research, Demonstration and Innovation. “These projects give FTA and the broader USDOT community the opportunity to leverage transformative technological advances to ensure that public transportation fulfills its promise to serve everyone.

Wayfinding and Navigation:

  • City College of New York– Smart Cane for Assistive Navigation (SCAN) integrated with a smart phone application. (Award: $631,000)
  • AbleLink Smart Living Technologies– A new open wayfinding media standard and infrastructure to support the creation of geographically-specific cloud-based libraries of routes that adhere to the SMART standard for users in different metropolitan or rural areas. (Award: $923,721)
  • Pathway Accessibility Solutions– A wayfinding tool for wheelchair users and people with visual impairment that provides routes tailored to the user’s preferences. (Award: $913,389)
  • TRX Systems– Smart wayfinding and navigation system to obtain real-time location, en-route assistance, and situational awareness. (Award $889,101)

Pre-Trip and Concierge Services:

  • AbleLink– A suite of assessment, self-directed learning, and trip execution technologies to support independent travel for individuals with cognitive disabilities. (Award: $828,154)

Safe Intersection Crossing:

  • Carnegie Mellon University– Connect pedestrian travelers with disabilities to the traffic signal systems (and by extension to nearby connected vehicles and infrastructure), and use this connectivity to develop assistive services for safe intersection crossing and increased independent mobility. (Award: $2,000,000)

A key ATTRI partner, the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research under the Administration for Community Living within the Department of Human Services, will make a separate announcement for applications in the robotics and automation technology area.

These applications will enhance independent mobility for all travelers, including those with disabilities, using transformative technologies, universal design, and inclusive information communication technologies.

Intelligent Transportations Systems Joint Program Office Director Ken Leonard notes, “ATTRI is exploring the formation of an accessible transportation network that is far more economical, expansive, and welcoming, which is of increasing importance not only to travelers with disabilities, but to all travelers in the United States.”

*Includes the base and the optional years and is subject to availability of funds and successful performance objectives.

Source: US DOT



Persons with disabilities to be given priority in transportation: DGCA to SC

NEW DELHI: The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has told the Supreme Court that persons with disabilities would be given priority for transportation over others in cases of unforseen situations demanding off-loading of passengers from aircraft. The DGCA told a bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan that the payload capacity of an aircraft might change due to technical aspects or weather conditions and, in such cases, the airlines would give priority to persons with disabilities for transportation.
Air India Plane
“It is pertinent to mention that the payload capacity of aircraft may change due to technical aspects such as change of aircraft, restriction due to airfield, change in weather conditions.

“If such unforeseen circumstances is encountered by operator and flight is permissible with lesser payload i.e. lesser number of passengers, the first priority will be of persons with disabilities for transportation,” the DGCA said in its compliance affidavit in the top court.

The matter was listed for hearing before the court today and Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand told the bench that they have done “whatever they could do” in this matter. The apex court has posted the matter for hearing after three weeks. The court is hearing a plea filed by a woman with disability who was off-loaded from aircraft in 2012.

The court had earlier ordered the airline to pay Rs 10 lakh as damages to her. The DGCA, in its affidavit, has also said that the concerns raised by the petitioner regarding assistive devices weighing upto 15 kg free of charge as additional baggage have been allowed, subject to the aircraft limitation. “If the passengers prefer to use their own wheelchair, they shall be permitted to use it provided the wheelchair confirms to specifications as laid down by Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee,” it said.

DGCA also said that feedback received were shared with operators for improvement in their services. “CISF has submitted that X-ray screening of prosthetic limbs is mandatory as per existing Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) circulars and it can be done only by removing the prosthetic limb and passing it through an X-ray machine. As per CISF BCAS circular, there is no scope for leniency in respect of persons with disabilities (regarding this),” it said.

DGCA also said optimum implementation of international civil aviation security measures shall be integrated into the design and construction of new facilities and alterations to the existing facilities at an airports. “It is humbly submitted that the directions of this court have been complied with by DGCA,” the affidavit said.

Regarding the petitioner’s suggestion to have free ambulift (assistance to differently-abled persons to board a flight) and towable ramps, the DGCA submitted that provision of towable ramp have been already been introduced at places where such facility is not available.

Source: Indianexpress

Vision for Accessible Transportation in Canada

GATINEAU, QC: Scott Streiner, the Chair and CEO of the Canadian Transportation Agency, today shared his vision of a national transportation system that is the most accessible in the world. He outlined this vision in a speech to representatives from disability rights associations and industry.

Photo of a woman being assisted by a service dog boarding a transit train car at an accessible station.Since 1988, the Agency has been protecting the fundamental right of persons with disabilities to an accessible transportation network. It does so by making and administering regulations and standards, resolving complaints about accessibility, and undertaking proactive education efforts and audits of transportation service providers.

Last year the Agency launched its Regulatory Modernization Initiative – the most ambitious regulatory review in its history, with the goal of bringing all its regulations in line with current business models, user expectations and best practices in the regulatory field. To date, as part of the consultation phase dedicated to accessible transportation, the Agency has conducted 30 face-to-face meetings and received over 200 submissions from disability rights organizations, industry, and other interested Canadians.

While the Agency is still looking at the input, it found broad support for:

  • creating a comprehensive set of accessible transportation regulations – in place of the current patchwork of regulations and voluntary codes — that apply across the national transportation system;
  • emphasizing staff training and education on how to better serve and interact with persons with disabilities; and
  • having service providers develop multi-year accessibility plans that encourage proactive rather than reactive strategies to advance accessibility.

Details on the feedback received are provided in the Agency’s What We Heard Summary Report.

Following the Chair’s speech, he held an all-day meeting with the Agency’s Accessibility Advisory Committee, to further share his vision and receive input on the Agency’s regulatory modernization initiative. Made up of representatives from the community of persons with disabilities, the transportation industry and other interested parties, the Committee provides a forum for engagement and dialogue, helps the Agency develop regulations and guidelines on accessibility, and allow stakeholders to offer feedback on the effectiveness of the Agency’s accessibility-related activities.

“Travel on a plane, train, bus, or ferry is not just a convenience – it’s an essential part of modern life. We should move as close as possible to universal accessibility, with individual accommodation as the failsafe, not the default. We should design for accessibility, build for accessibility, and train staff for accessibility. One in seven Canadians has a disability and this proportion is rising as the population ages, so this is both an ethical and a business imperative.” said Scott Streiner, Chair and CEO of the Canadian Transportation Agency

Canadian Transportation Agency issues What We Heard Summary Report on accessible transportation

GATINEAU, QC: As part of the Regulatory Modernization Initiative, the Canadian Transportation Agency has issued a What We Heard Summary Report for its first phase of consultations on accessible transportation. The report highlights the key points that have emerged so far, such as the need for a clear, relevant and comprehensive set of rules for all modes of transport, and for those rules to be expressed in mandatory regulations rather than voluntary codes.

The accessibility needs of Canadians are varied and are increasing as the population ages and the percentage of Canadians with disabilities continues to grow. In a recent Government of Canada consultation on creating new national accessibility legislation, participants ranked transportation as third among key areas of focus for the Government of Canada.

To date, during this consultative process, the Agency has received over 190 submissions from disability rights organizations, industry, and other interested Canadians. Comments and proposals will be taken into consideration in the development of the regulation. As part of the consultation, the Agency will also be meeting with its Accessibility Advisory Committee on June 19, 2017, to get their views.

The report is being released during National AccessAbility Week. The week celebrates inclusion and accessibility in communities and workplaces across the country. Where accessibility of transportation comes into play, the Agency fulfills an important role for all Canadians with disabilities.

“Equal access to transportation services for persons with disabilities is a fundamental human right. The Agency is very pleased with the level of engagement and feedback we have received in our consultations on accessible transportation regulations. We look forward to continuing the discussion with our Accessibility Advisory Committee in June.” said Scott Streiner, Chair and CEO of the Canadian Transportation Agency.


UNDP and Didi Chuxing to Provide Accessible Transportation for All

BEIJING: The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Didi Chuxing, the world’s leading integrated transportation app, launched a cooperation program to provide accessible chauffeured car services for people in need including individuals with disabilities in China on May 29.

A wheelchair user getting off an accessible bus began operating in Ho Chi Minh City on July 3. (Photo credit: Talk Vietnam)The accessible chauffeured cars launched are modified from multi-purpose vehicles and provide more space with adjustable seats and doors. In addition, customized Disability Equality Trainings (DETs) for the chauffeurs have been provided by DiDi and UNDP. From the perspectives of users with different needs, the training guided drivers and DiDi staff on how to provide services and improve products for persons with disabilities.

“At UNDP we strongly advocate for rights of persons with disabilities and these taxis provide convenient and reliable transportation for a group often left behind. We hope these services can help advocate for disabled groups in China and build a more inclusive society for all in line with ‘leaving no one behind’,” said Patrick Haverman, Deputy Country Director of UNDP China.

Over the coming months, this pilot project will build a linkage to Youth Solution Trip, a UNDP initiative to promote youth engagement and innovation, in which users including persons with disabilities will be invited as “product experiencing officers” to provide feedback to the product and services, in order to improve disadvantaged passengers’ experiences. After the initial launch in Beijing, more modified cars will be released into the market and expanded to other cities based on the experience and results from the pilot programme. The project will continue to facilitate DiDi App to remove physical and informational barriers for its users, providing services to more people in need including people with visual and hearing disabilities.

Last year marked the 10th Anniversary of the adoption of the groundbreaking UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which coincides with the year when the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development came into force. The cooperation will call for all members of society to create an accessible and equal traffic environment for persons with disabilities and help raise awareness of disability inclusion in China.

“The DiDi accessible chauffeured car services actively support the 17 SDGs advocated by the United Nations. It not only provides a safer, more convenient transportation method for the disabled group, but also defends their equal rights,” said Fu Qiang, Senior Vice President and head of Premier Mobility Group of Didi Chuxing.

The project also received support from actors, actresses and sports star in China, Michelle Yeoh, Zhou Xun, Ma Sichun, Leo Ku, William Chan and Ning Zetao, who call for different groups in the society to create a convenient and equal traffic environment for all.

“Looking forward UNDP will continue its support in safeguarding the rights of people with disabilities in China and promoting access to transportation, so as to build a more equal and inclusive society,” Patrick added.

How to book the service:

  • Choose Premier on the DiDi App
  • Set your destination
  • Choose “reservation”
  • Set the pickup time at least two hours later than your ordering time
  • Choose “six people SUV” in vehicle style
  • Click on “more services” to check the box of “accessible chauffeured car services”

Accessible transportation (Photo credit: Municipalidad de San Borja)

Accessible taxi

Accessible transportation (Photo credit: Municipalidad de San Borja)

Montana State University and Moscow partnership improves transportation accessibility

BOZEMAN: The Western Transportation Institute (WTI) at Montana State University and Moscow State University for Transport Engineering (MIIT) in Russia have completed a unique, year-long collaboration designed to make transportation in rural communities more accessible to people with disabilities.

see caption

Wheelchair ramp on a Streamline bus is an example of how transportation can be made more accessible to people with disabilities. Photo courtesy Western Transportation Institute.

In both countries, rural transit agencies struggle to meet accessibility requirements because of limited funding and large service areas, according to WTI program manager Susan Gallagher, the project’s principal investigator.

“This project offered an opportunity to develop solutions from a cross-cultural perspective,” Gallagher said.

The project has its origins in a chance meeting between MIIT professor Irina Karapetyants and Paul Foster, director of the Office of International Studies and Outreach at MSU Billings, who was visiting Russia in 2013 as part of a U.S. State Department program to foster educational collaboration between the two countries. After Karapetyants expressed interest in WTI’s work, Foster connected the two institutions.

At that time, WTI and MIIT were in the process of stepping up their roles in addressing regional transportation workforce needs. In 2014, the Federal Highway Administration selected WTI to lead the new West Region Transportation Workforce Center, created to help develop a well-trained transportation workforce across 10 Western states. Meanwhile, as Russia prepared to host the 2014 Winter Paralympics, Russia’s Ministry of Transport established a special Training Resource Center for Accessible Transportation at MIIT, with similar training goals.

“Both parties recognized that we have a lot in common, in terms of serving large, low-population areas,” and that both would benefit from sharing research findings and other resources, Gallagher said.

After securing a grant from the Eurasia Foundation in 2015 that allowed WTI and MIIT to discuss mutual goals, the partners decided to focus on increasing accessibility to people with disabilities in rural and small urban communities, according to Gallagher.

“A primary focus of the project was on producing well-trained staff capable of providing quality assistance to passengers with disabilities,” Gallagher said.

After WTI researchers collected information about different accessibility training programs, it shared the information with MIIT, as well as with transit providers in the U.S., both on the West Region Transportation Workforce Center website and through a series of webinars. During the project, the West Region Transportation Workforce Center added information about roughly 170 transit training programs to its online searchable database, and added links to over 50 relevant research papers and other resources to its website.

The researchers also compared accessibility education programs and data from surveys of transit providers in their respective countries to identify barriers and successes to providing accessible transportation services. The results led WTI researchers to identify ways that they could improve regional training programs, according to Gallagher.

“The success of the project partnership exceeded expectations,” she said. “The team is eager to identify opportunities to continue these initial efforts.”

The project was jointly sponsored by the Eurasia Foundation’s University Partnership Program and by the Small Urban and Rural Livability Center, a University Transportation Center supported by the U.S. Department of Transportation and led by WTI. The project team included transit training experts from Easterseals Project Action Consulting. The project is one of 20 international global initiatives with which WTI has been involved.




Easterseals to Help Communities Provide Accessible Transportation for People With Disabilities

WASHINGTON: Transportation continues to be a barrier for older adults and people with disabilities in rural communities. In response, Easterseals designed the Accessible Transportation Community Initiative to increase options for independent mobility in several communities nationwide. The initiative will address the accessible transportation needs of people who rely on public transportation and will begin in selected rural communities in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, Montana and Alaska.

Accessible taxi (Photo credit: Municipalidad de San Borja)

Accessible transportation (Photo credit: Municipalidad de San Borja)

When driving is not a viable option for independent mobility, people tend to shrink their world to their homes, relying on family and friends when travel is necessary. Often routine activities such as going to the grocery store or a doctor’s appointment go neglected due to the absence of readily available transportation solutions. The Margaret A. Cargill Foundation (MACF) awarded Easterseals with a grant of $1.2 million in order to make transportation more accessible in rural communities.

With this grant, Easterseals will build a coalition in each of these communities and provide webinars, trainings, technical support, contact information, resources and much more. Through building a strong coalition of stakeholders, each community will begin to discover that solutions shared across agencies will help individuals and organizations achieve what one agency alone could not. As a result, mobility options will be made available to alleviate the difficulty people with disabilities and older adults have in moving around their community.

“The innovative solutions developed through this initiative are vital to older adults and people with disabilities,” said Randy Rutta, President and CEO of Easterseals. “Transportation remains an enormous challenge and our ultimate goal is to build accessible communities for all.”

Communities interested in applying for an Accessible Transportation Community Initiative grant, should visit www.projectaction.com or contact Donna Smith, Senior Director, Easterseals Project Action Consulting at dsmith@easterseals.com.

For more information, visit easterseals.com

Columbia lacks accessible transportation

COLUMBIA: Columbia citizens who use a wheelchair have a difficult time finding a ride outside of normal business hours. In fact, there isn’t a single wheelchair-accessible taxi cab in service in Columbia right now.

Taxi“I mean, to think that people in the faith community can’t get out and go to church on Sundays because there’s no accessible vehicles is stunning to me,” said Chuck Graham, the chair of the Columbia Disabilities Commission.

While there are numerous wheelchair-accessible transportation services offered in the Columbia area, such as MO-X and OATS, these services are many times not offered at night or over the weekend. Specifically, Graham said, people using wheelchairs don’t have access to these services on Sundays.

“There are some services that” offer wheelchair-accessible transportation to people “but once again, they’re going to be strictly limited, they’re going to be only during the day time, and they’re not going to be on Sundays,” Graham said.

The Columbia Disabilities Commission submitted a letter to Mayor Brian Treece and Columbia’s city council asking for major changes to Columbia’s transportation services. Specifically, Graham said they want the city to offer grants to taxi companies in order to incentivize them to offer wheelchair-accessible services.

“What we’re proposing to the city council is that they provide two ten-thousand dollar grants per year to be able to offer those to taxi companies who would like to use that as an incentive to buy an accessible vehicle and then put that into their rotation,” Graham said.

Treece said he’s on board with the idea, and wants to fund the initiative through the street closure ordinance he introduced recently to the council.

“We need to make sure that we’re providing those basic services like transportation available to everyone regardless of whether they use a wheelchair or not. I think that’s a basic function of government,” Treece said.

The street closure ordinance charges downtown developers a fee for taking up parking spaces during construction. Treece said this is an appropriate way to use the funds.

“I think that could be a great financial mechanism that is directly tied to those who use our sidewalks and streets the most.”

A new taxi-voucher program, aimed at providing transportation for low-income elderly or disabled people needing a ride to doctors appointments, will bring Columbia its first wheelchair-accessible taxi later this month. But the man in charge of administering these vouchers, Central Missouri Community Action’s Mobility Coordinator Anthony Nichols, concedes that the program falls well short of providing adequate service for people with disabilities.

“I couldn’t agree more with Chuck. This is a great small victory, but it is just a step. The bigger picture is one of more need, and that need is only going to continue to grow,” Nichols said.

The wheelchair-accessible vehicle, provided through ABC Taxi, should be put into circulation later this month. The initiative is funded through the Community Health Fund, which garners $500,000 per year from Boone Health Center’s lease with BJC Health Care. The taxi-voucher program will receive $20,000 per year to provide transportation for low-income people, but does not provide ride services for people outside of that realm.

Source: komu