In the first installment of our “Leading by Example” blog series, Galt Foundation shines a spotlight on the Department of Transportation’s efforts to make public transportation more accessible for individuals with disabilities, and how this can positively impact employment.
For many employees, the commute is an integral part of a job, which makes reliable transportation an employment essential. In this first installment of our newest blog series, “Leading By Example,” we analyze successful diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategies from various organizations, with the hope of providing ideas and inspiration for the development of your own company’s D&I initiatives.
Read on to learn how the Department of Transportation (DOT) is working towards improving accessible transportation for individuals with disabilities, and how they’re helping people with disabilities increase access to employment and career development.
What Does the Department of Transportation Do?
The Department of Transportation keeps America connected and moving from coast to coast by developing and maintaining transportation systems. This includes everything from roads and railways, to airlines and waterways. The DOT is also responsible for setting safety regulations across all major modes of transportation.
Ultimately, their mission is to provide safe, efficient, and accessible transportation for all Americans.
How Transportation Affects Individuals with Disabilities
Accessible transportation has an enormous positive impact on the quality of life for individuals with disabilities. Accessible transportation makes it easier to stay connected with friends and family, access healthcare, and find and maintain employment.
However, many public transit systems remain inaccessible. For example, although major US cities typically have accessible buses in their fleets, rural areas may not have them, or may only run accessible buses on a very limited schedule. Some transportation vehicles may only be able to accommodate one person that uses a wheelchair at a time. In some cases, impassable roads and sidewalks make it impossible to access even the accessible buses for transportation. This results in people needing to rely on ADA-mandated door-to-door paratransit, which has to be booked anywhere from 48 hours to weeks in advance, and can be costly in addition to being inconvenient.
According to the National Household Travel Survey, over 13 million Americans aged 18 to 64 have mobility related disabilities. Only one-fifth of these individuals work full- or part-time. In contrast, over three-quarters of people without mobility related disabilities in this same age group are employed. Reliable accessible transportation is an essential part of ensuring individuals with disabilities have access to employment.
As a result, many public transport agencies are incorporating accessibility during the planning stage of new initiatives, in addition to improving universal access to existing infrastructure. The Department of Transportation is at the forefront of these initiatives and projects.
Making Transportation More Inclusive
The Department of Transportation is undertaking a strategic plan to improve the availability, accessibility, and efficiency of transportation for persons with disabilities. Their ultimate vision is to create seamless, barrier-free multimodal transportation. Here’s how:
The DOT is looking at the expanded use of current popular technology, like car-sharing services and ride-hailing apps, to conveniently and easily connect people with disabilities to appropriately adapted vehicles. They’re also exploring innovations in navigation and wayfinding technology, which could help find better routes and options when it comes to getting from point A to point B.
Self-driving cars may once have seemed like a fantasy from the future, but the DOT is committed to exploring and developing technologies like autonomous vehicles, which require little to no manual driver input, as a viable means of accessible transportation.
Removing Barriers and Upgrading Infrastructure
Accessible modes of transport like buses, trains, and planes are undoubtedly an important focus of the DOT’s strategic plan. However, they are going further to ensure access by working to remove barriers on public roadways and rights of way which may prevent individuals with disabilities from accessing various modes of transportation.
This is not the only infrastructure enhancement the Department of Transportation plans to undertake. They are also working on adding more accessible rail transit stations, developing and implementing new standards for the accessibility of transit vehicles, incorporating new technology into existing infrastructure to enhance mobility and access, increasing the affordability of accessible transportation, improving regulations around accessible air travel, and much more.
Helping People With Disabilities Get Employment
With new initiatives underway and even more on the horizon, the Department of Transportation is increasing the availability of affordable, accessible transit, which makes it easier for individuals with disabilities to travel on a convenient schedule.
It’s been shown that this kind of access to reliable transit can directly help persons with disabilities find more, and higher quality, job opportunities, which can significantly help further career development. It also allows for greater scheduling flexibility and lets people choose whether they would prefer to work full-time or part-time.
For individuals with disabilities who want to work, transportation is much more than a morning commute. It’s the road to better employment opportunities.
Diversity in the Workplace
If you’re interested in building a more diverse and inclusive workforce by hiring employees with disabilities, or searching for applicants from various backgrounds, the team at Galt Foundation is happy to help.
You can reach one of our qualified experts here, or call us at 1-877-361-1277.