According to the U.S. Census Bureau (2011), approximately 36.3 million Americans experience one or more disabilities, which is the equivalent to one out of every eight Americans. 30% of individuals with a disability have difficulty accessing transportation (US General Accounting office, 2003). Barriers to public transportation quickly affect the ability of people with a disability to fully experience the social, economic, and political environments of their community (Christensen, 2014). It is estimated that 560,000 people do not even leave home as a result of transportation difficulties (U.S. Department of Transportation & Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 2003). Adequate, accessible public transportation is essential to fully address social and economic disparities that exist among individuals with a disability (National Council on Disability (NCD), 2005). Being able to travel independently, is a critical element to maintaining quality of life and participation in the community. (Sally Lindsay & De-Lawrence Lamptey, 2018).
In an October 2018 report entitled, Comprehensive State Plan on Community-Based Services for Persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD): A Report to the Indiana General Assembly, the Task Force for Assessment of Services and Supports for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities made the following recommendation regarding transportation:
The Task Force recommends, “Developing transportation strategies promoting independence and employment through collaborative efforts of key stakeholders and public-private partnerships across rural and urban areas. This may include addressing multijurisdictional issues; encouraging more funding for public transportation models; working with state and local transportation boards to ensure representation of individuals with disabilities; improving existing infrastructure to be fully accessible; facilitating the use of private ride sharing systems; and encouraging the development of innovative options such as driverless vehicles.” (Nord & Grossi, 2018 p. 8).
Residents of all counties, including Marion County, need regional transportation. In fact, The Coordinated Regional Transportation Plan for the Indianapolis Metropolitan area states, “Providers need to expand service to meet the needs of employees with nontraditional work hours. Saturday service is required from Federal, state, and local resources to address the needs of work shifts”.
In its research and planning, Down Syndrome Indiana has found lack transportation options to be a huge barrier to employment and positive health outcomes for individuals with Down syndrome. Therefore, Down Syndrome Indiana feels it is imperative to tackle the audacious goal of providing transportation coordination for the families we serve.