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The Intake and Assessment – Getting to Know Each Other

When Via first begins their intake they set up a meeting with trainees, family members, and the Via travel trainer can get to know each other – which is done in the trainee’s home for comfort and ease. The trainer inquires about the prospective trainee’s reason(s) for wanting to learn to ride the bus/rail and answers questions that the potential rider, the family, and other interested individuals may have.

In addition to forming a relationship, the trainer needs to collect information to assess the individual’s physical, cognitive, and emotional strengths and deficits as they relate to the travel training process. The more the travel instructor can learn about the new trainee – the better they will be able to create a travel training plan. This plan will support them with the trainee’s goal to learn how to use public transit independently.

Susan Unger, Travel Training Instructor/Coordinator
Professional Travel Instructor
Easter Seals Project Action Travel Instruction Certificate
sunger@viacolorado.org
303-447-2848 ext. 1048


Travel Training Blog: Factors Related to Bus and Rail Schedules

Efficient public travel requires close examination of bus/rail schedules, so that trainees can arrive at their destination within their desired arrival times. How well do departure and arrival times match the times the trainee wants to arrive at, or return from the destination? How many bus or rail transfers will there be, if any? How much time will the trip take and what is the best time to take this journey? If one were to miss a bus or train, would a second one come along quickly or would there be an extended wait time? Are there places to sit while waiting?

Via Mobility 282Even as the trainer examines the intended route in light of these concerns, she or he often ascertains what specific bus or rail is scheduled to come before or after the intended vehicle. Where might the rider go if he or she boarded the wrong bus or train? What should trainees be advised to do if they miss their intended bus or train, or it fails to arrive?

It is the travel trainer’s responsibility to assess all the various components that comprise not only the path of travel, but also the time of travel, and to choose the safest, most reasonable option available for the trainee based on his or her strengths.

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Susan Unger, Travel Training Instructor/Coordinator
Professional Travel Instructor
Easter Seals Project Action Travel Instruction Certificate
sunger@viacolorado.org
303-447-2848 ext. 1048


Travel Training: How Does a Travel Trainer Rout and Scout a Trip

After a destination and likely path of travel have been determined for a new trainee, the travel trainer conducts a thorough environmental analysis of the route that will be taken. That process is called routing and scouting. That means that the trainer will do the trip himself or herself. Besides planning the route, the trainer will identify barriers that the trainee may face, and the trainer will generate problem-solutions ahead of time, and address any safety concerns that are obvious. If the initially intended route creates what would seem to be insurmountable challenges to the prospective trainee, the trainer will identify a new route, if alternatives exist.

What do travel trainers look for when they are routing and scouting a trip? Trainers will analyze the route to answer the following types of questions:

  • What is the condition of the sidewalks?
  • Are there curbs cuts (for ease of wheelchair and scooter mobility as well as use of other adaptive equipment)?
  • What types of crosswalks will be used?
  • What types of bus/rail stops?
  • How much walking is required? Is the terrain uneven or steep?
  • If it were to rain or snow, are sidewalks cleared? Are they slippery? Is construction blocking sidewalks or traffic flow?

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Susan Unger, Travel Training Instructor/Coordinator
Professional Travel Instructor
Easter Seals Project Action Travel Instruction Certificate
sunger@viacolorado.org
303-447-2848 ext. 1048


What is Travel Training?

TTMan_4Travel training refers to a variety of services to assist individuals (most commonly older adults and individuals with disabilities) in overcoming the barriers that are limiting their ability to use public transit as a form of transportation. Depending on the needs and interests of the individual(s), travel training can be done in two manners:  individualized one-on-one instruction, or, in a group setting. Individualized travel training offers personalized assistance to those facing the greatest barriers to using the public transit system in their community.
The key components of the travel training process are the:

  • Intake and Assessment:  usually completed at the trainees home or referring agency
  • Identifying the Destination and Determining the Route:  the trainer will research the best route to use based on the individuals strengths and abilities
  • Developing a Travel Plan:  the trainer will take the public transit route to ensure that the ‘path of travel’ (including sidewalks, street crossings, bus stop accessibility, etc.) is appropriate for the trainee
  • Skill Development:  the trainee and trainer practice the route together, utilizing strategies developed by the trainer to assist the trainee in becoming independent and successful
  • Wind Down:  the trainer gradually removes them self, or ‘fades out,’ of the practice sessions to allow the trainee to demonstrate the skills they have acquired

Group instruction provides information on how to use the public transit system in a class setting. Providing participants with information to take home after the class (bus schedules, system maps, other resources, travel training brochure) is important. Often times, a group outing is scheduled as well which provides participants with a “hands on” opportunity to use public transit and ask questions along the way. Going to a destination with an activity (coffee shop, ice cream, lunch…) can be a fun way to practice what they have learned with the support of others.

Offering a variety of travel training services to address the varied needs and interests of individuals is important. And, travel training programs need to continually stay open to developing new programing to reach the people they want to serve.

Susan Unger, Travel Training Instructor/Coordinator
Professional Travel Instructor
Easter Seals Project Action Travel Instruction Certificate
sunger@viacolorado.org
303-447-2848 ext. 1048


Who is a Good Travel Training Candidate?

By Susan Unger

CindaEach prospective trainee brings to the training process unique life experiences, strengths and limitations, as well as his or her reasons for participating in the travel training program. For this reason, the travel trainer customizes the travel training process so that it builds on the strengths of each learning and it incorporates strategizes of makes accommodations to overcome the trainee’s deficits. This individualization increases the likelihood of the trainee’s success. There is, however, a factor that we believe needs to be present for the training experiences to be successful and that’s motivation.

Motivation The prospective travel trainee’s motivation may be the single most important element in the travel training process. Without a desire to learn to use public transit, it is unlikely that he or she will succeed in the travel training program. Sometimes people other than the trainee (e.g. parents, teachers, caseworkers), are the ones who are invested in having the individual participate in the travel training program. If the reality is that only other people are interested in the individual learning how to ride the bus or rail, it seldom works.

A Goal / Destination Although we can’t force someone to be motivated, having a destination that the trainee wants to go to, and an activity he or she want to participate in, can help to motivate the individual to learn to ride the bus or light rail. Ideally, the destination will be a place that the individual has an opportunity to visit repeatedly so he or she can continue to practice what they have learned. Examples of typical destinations are schools, recreation centers, employment, and family and friends’ homes.

Safe Community Skills There are two kinds of prerequisite safety skills that are of paramount importance for a prospective trainee to possess. One relates to having appropriate boundaries with strangers and the other relates to being able to keep oneself safe in traffic and moving around the community streets.

While trainers constantly reinforce safe community skills throughout the training, the potential trainee needs to know how to keep himself or herself safe and bring those skills to the travel training sessions. Visit our Paratransit Page  Travel Training:  How to Decide if It’s the Way to Go

Susan Unger, Travel Training Instructor/Coordinator
Professional Travel Instructor
Easter Seals Project Action Travel Instruction Certificate
sunger@viacolorado.org
303-447-2848 ext. 1048


How Did Travel Training Begin?

Travel TrainingTravel training was introduced in the early 1970’s in the New York City Public Schools. Since that time, travel training has grown as a field, with sixty-two community based and public transit travel training programs around the country. This number does not include school programs that offer travel training as part of their special education and/or independent living curriculum. Sometimes, but not always, professionals from other fields such as occupational therapy, recreational therapy, education or social work choose to specialize in travel training and take coursework to enhance their skills specific to this field.

There are several professional organizations available that provide support and foster the development of travel training. Easter Seals, a national organization established in 1907, provides a variety of services to individuals with disabilities and their families. Easter Seals was commissioned by Congress in 1988 to improve access to public transit for people with disabilities through a combination of research, outreach, technical assistance, and teaching. A branch of this organization, Easter Seals Project Action (ESPA), was established specifically to strengthen transportation accessibility.

Project Action supports the field of travel training by offering workshops, conducting research, creating competency standards for travel trainers, and making available a variety of written and on-line materials, all dealing with various aspects of travel training. In addition, there are two professional travel training organizations in the United States: the Association of Travel Instruction (ATI), and the Consortium for the Educational Advancement of Travel Instruction (CEATI). The mission of these organizations is to advance the travel training field through research, professional development, the publication of competency standards, and instruction. Both of these organizations hold annual conferences where travel trainers can learn new skills, gain information, and share strategies.

Susan Unger, Travel Training Instructor/Coordinator
Professional Travel Instructor
Easter Seals Project Action Travel Instruction Certificate
sunger@viacolorado.org
303-447-2848 ext. 1048