The AODA does not yet have an education standard. Two committees are making recommendations about what an education standard should include. In the meantime, the Transportation Standards have rules that apply to school transportation. School transportation services make schools more accessible to students with disabilities.
School Transportation Services
Several sections of the Transportation Standards apply to school transportation. For instance, school boards must create individual transportation plans for students with disabilities. In addition, colleges and universities that transport students on their campuses must make this service accessible. They may do so by using accessible vehicles when they transport all students. Alternatively, if they cannot provide integrated service on conventional vehicles, they must have equivalent services on specialized vehicles.
Stronger Standards are Needed
There are many other regulations in the standards that apply to public transportation, such as city buses, but not to school buses. Some of these requirements are:
- AODA training for all transportation workers
- Accessibility plans for conventional and specialized providers
- Systems in place for passengers who travel with support persons
In addition, the standards list technical rules for making different parts of city buses accessible. For example, some of the rules apply to features such as:
- Ramps and lifting devices
- Grab bars, handholds, handrails, and stanchions
- Floors and carpeted surfaces
These technical rules make city buses accessible to many passengers with disabilities. In contrast, school buses are not accessible to as many students. While some students can ride the bus with their peers, many others need to use specialized transportation. However, some of these students might ride a conventional school bus if it was slightly more accessible.
Furthermore, individual transportation plans only cover trips to and from school at the beginning and end of the school day. Similarly, universities and colleges only need accessible transportation around their campuses. There are no rules in the standards about how to transport students to special events off school property, such as class field trips. As a result, each student’s family and teachers need to make plans for each trip. An education standard could make this process easier by mandating that individual transportation plans include advance planning about how each student will get to field trips.
Our next article will explore more ways to make field trips accessible.