Learning to teach people to travel independently on public transportation

Kristi McLaughlin, Project Action

I am pleased to introduce Kristi McLaughlin as a guest blogger today. Kristi is the Project Manager for Easterseals Project Action Consulting and is the primary mover and shaker behind getting our certification program off the ground.

by Kristi McLaughlin

If you’re anything like me, you may have had a fear of public transportation prior to taking the plunge into the world of buses and trains. Maybe you’re still experiencing this uncertainty and haven’t yet crossed that bridge. Or maybe you’ve mastered buses and trains, but haven’t yet ventured out to try a new mode of transportation, like Uber or Lyft.

Regardless of your comfort level, there are important skills that must be learned in order to travel on any public transportation vehicle. Public transit riders need to have a minimum level of physical, cognitive and social skills to safely access public transportation. The particular skills may vary based on the mode of transportation, the accessibility of the transit agency and the accessibility of the community in general. Functional skills to ride public transit include, but are not limited to:

  • being able to get to the transit pickup location
  • navigating various terrain
  • boarding and exiting vehicles
  • paying fare
  • navigating through various environmental conditions like snow and ice
  • handling unexpected situations
  • traveling safely in the community.

The professional field that teaches these independent travel skills to people with disabilities and older adults is called travel training. If you had asked me 15 years ago what a travel trainer did my answer would be that it was probably a person that helped schedule transportation or make travel arrangements similarly to a travel agent.

I was completely in the dark.

In my defense, it is a relatively new field that’s been around for approximately 30 years or so, but it is growing rapidly. Travel trainers can be found in just about any organization with the shared goal of independent travel for those they serve — school systems, public transit, human service and older adult agencies, non-profit and for-profit agencies alike.

Easterseals Project Action Consulting (ESPAC) has been working to increase and improve accessible transportation in local communities for more than 25 years. We’re happy to be one of the few organizations teaching the important skills needed by travel trainers to improve the independent travel skills of those they work with. In this vein, ESPAC has developed a robust professional development certification program for travel trainers. Our certified travel training instructor program (ctti) includes coursework covering all the essentials for travel trainers.

Visit the CTTI page on our web site for more information on becoming a certified travel training instructor. You can check out our schedule of future training opportunities there, too, and link here to register.


Comments may not reflect Easterseals' policies or positions.

Please read our community guidelines when posting comments.

  1. Limo Service Says:

    Very impressive..!

  2. Lax Car Says:

    You are doing great and I really appreciate your efforts. Keep up the wonderful work.

  3. Katherine Paul Says:

    Kristi McLaughlin you doing a great job. Keep it up

Leave a Reply