Glossary of Disability and Transit Terms

/Glossary of Disability and Transit Terms
Glossary of Disability and Transit Terms2015-04-23T19:18:57-04:00

Accessibility:The extent to which places and equipment, including transit vehicles, are barrier-free and can be used by people who have disabilities, including those who use wheelchairs.

Accessibility features: An element of a structure or system that would enable people with different abilities to use the service or structure. For example, an entrance with a stairway that also has a ramp for people who use wheelchairs or have difficulty with steps. The ramp would be an accessibility feature.

Accessible Pedestrian Signals: A device that communicates information about pedestrian timing in nonvisual format, such as audible tones, verbal messages, and/or vibrating surfaces. (Accessible Design for the Blind)

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): The ADA of 1990 is a comprehensive civil rights law guaranteeing equal opportunity for people with disabilities in employment; public transportation; and public accommodations. Under the ADA, all programs, activities, and services provided by state and local government, including public transportation, are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of disability; regardless of whether the entities receive federal financial assistance.

ADA Complementary Paratransit: Paratransit service that is required as part of the ADA to complement, or serve in addition to, already available fixed-route transit service. ADA complementary paratransit services are only required in communities that offer fixed-route service and must meet a series of standards to ensure they are indeed comparable to fixed-route services. ADA complementary paratransit is a type of demand-response service. See parameters of service under the entry for paratransit.

Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG): Published by the U.S. Access Board, these serve as a minimum baseline for design, construction and alteration of buildings and facilities relevant to ADA standards. These guidelines for accessibility are to be applied during the design, construction, and alteration of building and facilities covered by Title II (public buildings and facilities) and Title III (places of public accommodation and commercial facilities) of the ADA. (U.S. Access Board)

Amplitude: The varying intensity of sounds. Sounds that vary getting louder or softer may be distracting to some riders, especially for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Assessment: The act of determining the value, importance or size of something.

Association of Travel Instruction (ATI): An incorporated non-profit professional association of travel training instructors and travel trainers.

Auditory Information: Related to or experienced through hearing.

Boarding Area: A defined space to be used for embarking or disembarking from a vehicle.

Braille: A system of writing for people who are blind that uses characters made up of raised dots.

Bus Rapid Transit: Limited-stop bus service that relies on technology to speed service. BRT can operate on exclusive transitways, high-occupancy vehicle lanes, expressways or streets. BRT uses intelligent transportation systems technology, priority for transit, rapid fare collection, and integration with land use to substantially upgrade bus system performance.

Carpools  and Vanpools (Rideshare Programs): A program through which riders travel together in a carpool or vanpool, sharing expenses and responsibilities such as driving. Such programs are often administered through commuter networks, transit agencies, or a partnership of employers.

Certifications and Assurances: Signed by transit agency administrators as a promise to comply with each federal regulation during the contracting phase of receiving federal funds.

Circulars: Often issued by federal agencies, circulars contain formal program guidance which is instructive in nature. For example, U.S. DOT has regulations that govern contracts and purchases which are under 49 CFR Part 18. FTA also has a circular governing third-party contracting. The circular gives instructions on how FTA’s grantees are to comply with the DOT regulations when executing contracts.

Clear Path of Travel: A travel space that is free of obstructions that could hinder wheelchair users, blind patrons, or others with disabilities. In general, this means a route at least 36 inches wide and free of chairs, tables, displays or other obstructions.

Code of Federal Regulations (CFR): Published in the Federal Register by the executive departments and agencies issuing the rules and is updated yearly. The CFR, also sometimes referred to as Code, is divided into 50 titles representing broad areas subject to federal regulation. Each title is divided into chapters and each chapter is further subdivided into parts covering specific regulatory areas. The title, part and section number are used to cite CFRs. For example, 49 CFR 1.1 would be title 49, part1, section 1.

Community Transportation: Transportation services that address the transit needs of an entire community—including the needs of both the general public and special populations—in a cost effective, flexible and efficient manner.

Commuter Rail: A railway for urban passenger service consisting of local short distance travel operating on the general system of railroads between a central city and adjacent suburbs. Service is operated on a regular basis and is characterized by multi-trip tickets, specific station to station fares, and typically one or two stations in the central business district.

Cueing: To give a reminder of or hint about something.

Curb Ramps: A short ramp cutting through a curb or built up to it.

Dear Colleague letter: Official correspondence by federal agencies explaining new legislation and providing guidance on program implementation related to the new legislation.

Demand-Response: Also called dial-a-ride, demand-response transportation provides service at the passenger’s request. Typically, transit agencies dispatch vehicles in response to a patron’s request while accommodating other patrons with similar geographical requests. A DRT vehicle could be a passenger car, van or small bus, and many are wheelchair-accessible. Paratransit and ADA complementary paratransit are types of DRT service. See parameters of DRT service under the entry for paratransit.

Detectible Warning Strips (Truncated Domes): A standardized surface feature built in or applied to walking surfaces or other elements to warn of hazards on a circulation path.

Disability: “A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment. The ADA does not specifically name all of the impairments that are covered.” (U.S. Department of Justice)

Federal Transit Administration (FTA): A component of the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) that governs and helps fund all public transportation. FTA sponsors research and provides training and technical assistance to transit providers.

Ferry Service: Ferry service is a transit mode composed of vessels carrying passengers and/or vehicles over a body of water. Ferryboats may allow vehicles and passengers or passengers only.

Final Destination: The place that you arrive at the end of a trip.

Fixed-Route: Transit services where vehicles run on regular, pre-determined, pre-scheduled routes, with no variation. Fixed-route services typically use large vehicles like buses, printed schedules or timetables, and designated bus stops where passengers board and get off the vehicle. Smaller public transit systems may provide fixed-route service but more often offer route deviation in which a vehicle will deviate from its regular route upon request to provide a customer with closer access to her destination.

Guidance: Issued by federal agencies to help clarify regulations and how they apply to certain situations.

Heavy Rail:
Also referred to as metro, subway or rapid rail, heavy rail is an electric railway with the capacity for a heavy volume of traffic. Heavy rail passenger cars operate as single or multi-car trains on fixed-rails with separate rights of way.

Intercity Rail:
Defined under 49 CFR Part 37.3 as “transportation provided by Amtrak.” Long-distance train service that connects major U.S. cities. Frequency depends on demand for service. Typically two to three trains run per day between major cities.

Key Station:
Existing rail transit stations that were required to be made accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities, including wheelchair users, by July 26, 1993. Key stations were identified as such through local public processes involving transit operators and the disability community, according to considerations established by U.S. DOT ADA regulations.

Low-Floor Buses:
A bus designed with a sloped ramp for wheelchair entry and exit eliminating the need for a wheelchair lift.

The act of moving or the ability to move from one’s present position to one’s desired position.

Mobility Aids: Electronic and manual devices like wheelchairs, walkers, scooters, or canes that are used to increase a person’s locomotion.

Mobility Management: “A strategic approach to service coordination and customer service which enhances the ease of use and accessibility of transportation networks.” (United We Ride).

Occupational Therapy:
The therapeutic use of occupations, including everyday life activities with individuals, groups, populations, or organizations to support participation, performance, and function in roles and situations in home, school, workplace, community, and other settings. (American Occupational Therapy Association)

Operator: The person responsible for driving the bus, train or other type of vehicle.

Orientation and Mobility: A professional discipline that incorporates tools and techniques used by people who are blind or visually impaired to systematically orient themselves to their environments and to move about independently.

Paratransit: Short for “parallel transit,” this type of passenger transportation service does not run on fixed routes or schedules but rather is provided at the customer’s request. Paratransit most often refers to wheelchair-accessible, van service and is a type of demand-response service. Parameters of paratransit service, from the lowest service level require to the highest, are as follows:

  • Curb-to-curb:The transit vehicle picks up and lets off passengers at the curb or driveway in front of their home or destination. In curb-to-curb service the driver does not assist the passenger along walks or steps to the door of the home or other destination.
  • Door-to-door: Passenger assistance is provided between the vehicle and the door of the passenger’s home or other destination.
  • Door-through-door: The driver provides assistance into and out of the passenger’s home or destination.
  • Hand-to-hand service: For passengers who always require an attendant.

See also the entries for ADA complementary paratransit and demand-response.

Pedestrian: A person traveling by their own locomotion outside a vehicle (e.g., someone walking or using a wheelchair on a sidewalk).

Pedestrian Pathways: A path people can use to travel from one place to another without a vehicle.

Priority Seating: Designated seats, usually in the front of a vehicle, reserved for people with disabilities and older adults.

Route Number/Name: The name, usually a number, associated with a set pathway that a public transit vehicle follows on a timetable (e.g., the 980 bus always travels up and down Main street from First Avenue to 40th Avenue).

Service Animals:
“Any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability, including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals with impaired hearing to intruders or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, or fetching dropped items.” (U.S. Department of Transportation)

Stop Announcements: Made by a person or by a recorded message and informs passengers on a bus, trolley, commuter rail, or rapid rail of the locations where the vehicle stops along a fixed route. Public and private entities providing fixed-route service must announce stops at transfer points with other fixed routes, major intersections and destination points, and intervals along a route sufficient to permit individuals with visual impairments or other disabilities to be oriented to their location and any stop on request of an individual with a disability.

Individualized service between destinations, which can be arranged in advance or on demand through a dispatcher.  Fares vary by provider, are distance or time-based, and may be subsidized through a transportation voucher program.
TDD/TTY: Telecommunications devices for people who are deaf.

Transit: Transportation by car, bus, rail, or ferry that is publicly or privately owned which provides service to the general public, including special services, on a regular or scheduled basis.

Transit Systems: Transportation by car, bus, rail, or ferry that is publicly or privately owned which provides service to the general public, including special services, on a regular or scheduled basis.

Travel Instruction (Also Known as Travel Training): Short-term, one-to-one, intensive instruction designed to teach people with disabilities and seniors to travel safely and independently on fixed-route public transportation in their community. Individuals with disabilities and seniors learn travel skills while following a specific route, typically to a school or a job site. Travel instruction professionals must be able to determine how different disabilities affect a person’s ability to travel, and they must develop appropriate methods to teach travel skills dependent upon individual needs. (Association of Travel Instruction)

Trip: A one-way travel of a person or vehicle from one point to another.

Universal Design:
A design approach that seeks to create environments, objects and systems that can be used by as many people as possible. Universal design is the process of embedding choice for all people in the things we design.

Volunteer  driver programs:
A network of volunteers that provides one-way, round-trip, and multi-stop rides. These programs are provided free of charge, on a donation basis, through membership dues, or at a minimal cost, and typically have an eligibility process and advance reservation requirements.

Voucher  programs:Typically administered through a social service agency, such programs enable qualified people to purchase vouchers for transportation  services at a reduced rate from providers such as public transit, volunteer programs, or taxis.

The process of applying orientation strategies and techniques and mobility skills and techniques to negotiate an environment and locate an intended destination.