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AAPD’s Advocacy For Accessible Transportation

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Man in a wheelchair in a field with looking glasses.

The American Association of People With Disabilities (AAPD) believes that access to affordable and reliable transportation is more than just a convenience—it’s a fundamental pillar of independence, opening avenues for education, employment, healthcare, and community participation for individuals with disabilities. This includes not only travel abroad but also local travel within one’s own community.

The Current State Of Transportation

Our nation’s infrastructure has traditionally favored personal vehicles and highways, often sidelining those who cannot afford cars or are unable to drive. Individuals with disabilities and older adults are less likely to possess a valid driver’s license and often need transit alternatives.

While legislation such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Air Carrier Access Act, and the Rehabilitation Act aim to address public transit issues for people with disabilities, there remains a gap in regulation enforcement, causing disabled travelers’ needs to be overlooked.

This oversight is apparent not only in urban settings but also extends to rural communities, which often lack comprehensive mass transportation facilities and services. This lack of accessible transportation options significantly impacts the daily lives of millions of Americans.

The Numbers Speak Volumes

In 2017, over 25 million Americans with disabilities aged 5 and older reported difficulty in accessing the transportation they required, and more than 3 million of these individuals were homebound as a result. A 2018 survey further reiterated the problem: adults with disabilities were more than twice as likely as those without disabilities to report transportation insecurity.

Air travel hasn’t proven to be a better alternative. In 2021 alone, $7,239 wheelchairs or scooters were reported lost, damaged, delayed, or stolen on the country’s largest airlines, according to the air travel consumer report. A survey conducted by AbleMove in the same year revealed that, out of over 300 wheelchair users, 43% no longer chose to fly due to their past experiences.

AAPD’s Role In Transportation Advocacy

Despite these sobering facts, AAPD remains undeterred. We continue to strive for a future where every individual, regardless of ability, has access to the transportation they need. We lobby for more inclusive policies, bring attention to overlooked areas, and champion rights for more accessible public transit. We envision a world where mass transportation facilities and services are readily available and accessible to everyone, including across rural communities.

Moving Forward

Creating a truly accessible transportation network requires a multifaceted approach. Beyond policy reforms, we need a shift in societal attitudes towards individuals with disabilities, comprehensive staff training, and a push for universal design principles. At AAPD, we are actively working towards these goals, partnering with transportation providers, policymakers, and the public to ensure everyone has access to reliable transportation. 

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