This section provides information and links to resources about transportation and the rights of people with disabilities. See also the Topic Guides on ADA Transportation, a series of guides for transit agencies, riders and advocates on the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and transportation. The topic guides are funded by the Federal Transit Administration.
Purchasing and modifying a car or van is an involved process. Since vehicle modifications can be expensive, it is well worth your time to be prepared and to research all options. The following are some suggestions.
- Evaluate your needs: Have your needs evaluated by a professional, such as your doctor, physical therapist, or occupational therapist. They can recommend types of adaptations would best suit your needs.
- Conduct research: Conduct research on the general safety and recommendations of accessible vehicles. A good place to start is at the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration's website in their Automotive Safety Issues for Persons with Disabilities section, which provides information about current regulations and standards, as well as access to reports and other consumer information.
- Find funding resources: There are various funding resources that you can check into, such as grants from non-profit organizations, car manufacturer rebate programs, private insurance or Medicaid (for adaptive equipment), and Family Support Services funding through your county board of Developmental Disabilities (DD). Also check with your bank or credit union to see what special loan options are available.
- Choose a vehicle: One of the best resources is other families. Ask them about their experiences. They will be able to provide you with valuable tips and ideas. Check with companies that do vehicle accommodations to see what they recommend.
- Choose a dealer to modify the vehicle: Once you have chosen the type of vehicle that you would like to purchase, find a dealer that has experience in adapting vehicles or that has a relationship with companies that do modifications.
There are two types of disability parking permits available: placards and license plates. Both permit the vehicle to park in parking spaces marked with the international symbol of access for people with disabilities.
- Disability parking placards: Placards are plastic cards that hang from the car mirror. Applications for placards are available at your local Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). The application must be completed by the person with the disability (or their guardian) and the person's physician. The application must be accompanied with a prescription from the physician.
- Disability parking license plates: Permanent license plates are often requested when a vehicle has been altered for a person with a disability. The fee for the disabled parking license plates is the same as for other types of license plates. To find out more about how to obtain disability parking license plates, contact your local BMV office.
The following are links to organizations that provide information about different types of public transportation for people with disabilities.
- Disability.gov - Transportation
- Federal Transit Administration - Civil Rights and Accessibility
- U.S. Department of Transportation - Accessibility
As with any other school-age child, a child with a disability is entitled to regular transportation if the child meets the state criteria for transportation. Generally, for children in grades kindergarten to eight, whether they attend public or private school, the school district is required to provide transportation if the child lives more than two miles from the school. For this age group, the only exception to this rule is if the state board of education agrees with the local school board that the transportation is unnecessary or unreasonable. Regular transportation for students in grades nine to twelve may be provided but is not required.
Even if your child does not qualify for regular transportation, he or she may be eligible for "special transportation" as a "related service." "Special transportation" means vehicle transportation service directly related to the child's disability and required by the Individualized Education Program (IEP) or any applicable state or federal law. If you believe your child needs special transportation, you should discuss this concern at an IEP meeting and have it written on the IEP.
Under Ohio law, there are no specific time limits for how long a child's ride to school can take. Instead, each school district must set its own reasonable travel time. Travel time is defined as beginning at the initial pickup of the child and ending with the final arrival at the school destination. The school district must develop its travel time standard, approved by the individual board of education, and must consider the following factors:
- age of child,
- condition of disability,
- geographic size of school district,
- location of special education class,
- traffic patterns, and
- roadway conditions.
Travel time for children with disabilities should be kept to a minimum consistent with the requirements of the IEP and, generally, should not be longer than comparable in-district transportation time for children without disabilities. Transportation travel time out-of-district should also be minimized consistent with the requirements of the child's IEP. Different rules may apply if your child attends a community school.