FRISCO, Texas – A unique quiz session at Conference on Transportation for Students with Disabilities and Special Needs tested participants’ knowledge of alternative transportation and allowed student carriers to share their way of working with these service providers to better support students with special needs.
Fourteen percent, or 7.3 million students in the United States, are identified as having special needs, confirmed Alex Muirbrook, who works in business development for ALC Schools, which sponsored the Friday afternoon session. midday.
Alternative student transportation providers may transport students with special needs or disabilities if IEPs are followed and federal and state guidelines are followed, noted Christine Robley, also in business development for ALC.
Driver consistency is a critical issue for parents and students, especially for students with autism. Participants clarified that this is the area over which drivers have the most control, in the way they welcome the student to start their day.
It also helps alert the student if another driver needs to be replaced, commented a bus driver present. When choosing an alternative transportation provider, a point of consideration should be how they handle driver assignments, another participant added.
While specialty trips need consistency, Muirbrook said the ALC found that 45% of those trips had route changes in 2020. In a district that has to change routes almost every week, notice of two to three days is standard.
For students in wheelchairs secured in a passenger vehicle, the Americans With Disabilities Act requires that lap and shoulder belts be used.
“And pull on it to make sure it’s snug,” added the participant who correctly answered the trivia question.
A driver trainer in attendance said she still noticed drivers incorrectly using the lab belt to secure the wheelchair rather than properly securing it to the passenger’s lap.
If an adult instructor is requested from the alternative transportation provider, ALC Vice President of Business Development Josie Wilkes advised a thorough check of that person.
One participant noted that some students with special needs even end up becoming counselors themselves, which can be fulfilling and enjoyable work for them.
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Several districts have reported using nurses on certain buses when students need medical services. In other cases, bus attendants or helpers are used. Wilkes said the ALC can provide helpers or attendants, but not nurses, who can be picked up from a school or provided by the student’s family.
The instructor-to-student ratio depends on the students’ IEPs, Wilkes added. For example, multiple monitors may be needed on a bus if a student is assigned a dedicated individual monitor.
Participants agreed that it is important to get the correct data from the alternative transport provider so that accurate information can be communicated to parents and the state. Wilkes explained that technology, especially on-board video, is an oft-requested feature.
What student carriers in space for special needs do is essential and often unrewarding, so they should be appreciated, noted Steve Scott, Field Training Manager at Beacon Mobility, a mobility provider based in the United States. Massachusetts.