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Students with Special Needs Transportation

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6 Questions & Answers about Transporting Students with Special Needs

Transportation is one of the most important services a school district is required to provide to students with disabilities under federal and state special education laws.

The article will focus on the federal requirements regarding transportation and whether or not your school district is in compliance with those laws. Individual state laws are not discussed as the laws vary and are beyond the scope of this article.

This article is meant to provide a summary of the laws and some of the judicial interpretations of those laws.  To interpret whether the laws and case law are applicable to your facts and situation, you should always consult an attorney.

 1. What laws govern the transportation of students with disabilities?

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”): explains at 20 U.S.C. § 1401(26)(A) that “transportation” is a related service under the law for students identified with a disability under the law and explains that:

  • The term “related services” means transportation, and such developmental, corrective, and other supportive services (including speech-language pathology and audiology services, interpreting services, psychological services, physical and occupational therapy, recreation, including therapeutic recreation, social work services, school nurse services designed to enable a child with a disability to receive a free appropriate public educationas described in the individualized education program of the child, counseling services, including rehabilitation counseling, orientation and mobility services, and medical services, except that such medical services shall be for diagnostic and evaluation purposes only) as may be required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education, and includes the early identification and assessment of disabling conditions in children.

The IDEA implementing regulations located at 34 C.F.R. § 300.34(a), further define “related services,” stating:

  • General. Related services means transportation and such developmental, corrective, and other supportive services as are required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education, and includes speech-language pathology and audiology services, interpreting services, psychological services, physical and occupational therapy, recreation, including therapeutic recreation, early identification and assessment of disabilities in children, counseling services, including rehabilitation counseling, orientation and mobility services, and medical services for diagnostic or evaluation purposes. Related services also include school health services and school nurse services, social work services in schools, and parent counseling and training.


Study Finds Transportation Lacking For Those With Special Needs

Transportation is an all-important piece of the puzzle for peopl

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by Shaun Heasley | November 11, 2016

New research finds that few options exist for those with developmental disabilities needing rides, particularly for community activities like running errands and socializing. (Clem Murray/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)


Transportation is an all-important piece of the puzzle for people with developmental disabilities looking to access the community, yet new research shows that options remain limited.

In a review of 99 Medicaid waiver programs serving people with autism or other developmental disabilities across the country in 2013, a new study finds that most offered transportation services, but such rides were often only available for specific purposes like getting to and from work.

Overall, 58 of the waivers reviewed provided transportation services and 71 included rides within other offerings like supported employment, residential or day services, according to findings published in the December issue of the Journal of Disability Policy Studies.

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Meanwhile, 13 of the waivers offered no assistance in getting from one place to another.

Those with developmental disabilities face a host of barriers accessing public transportation, researchers said, meaning that rides provided through Medicaid

Choose a Disability Employment Policy Resource

Transportation for special needs

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We all rely on different forms of transportation to go to job interviews, get to work, and participate in work-related trainings. Accessible, reliable transportation is one of the most critical — and perhaps least appreciated — components of becoming an active, productive member of the workforce for many Americans with disabilities. The best job, skills, or employment program provides few benefits if there is no reliable means of getting to work.

Transportation systems have become increasingly accessible, but many people with disabilities are still not able to benefit from the options available to most Americans. Access to public and private transportation for individuals with disabilities is more than just physical accessibility. It can include travel training for individuals with cognitive disabilities, coordination of transportation resources, and understanding one's rights.

ODEP's collaboration with the U.S. Department of Transportation and other Federal agencies has been critical to the development and ongoing work of the Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility. This Federal interagency initiative supports states and their localities in developing coordinated human service delivery systems.

The following resources offer helpful information related to transportation and disability employment:

The Special Needs People Who Need Special Transportation

Special Needs

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Special Needs TransportationIf you're an American with a disability, you're in good company. According to the 2010 US census, 54 million Americans have a disability, including 5.5 million disabled veterans. Five percent of children ages 5-17 have disabilities, 10% of people 19-64 have disabilities, and 38% of adults 65 and older have disabilities. Of the total number, 11 million need personal assistance with everyday activities, 3.3 million 15 and older use a wheelchair, and thousands under 15 years of age use wheelchairs, too. For most of the 54 million with a disability, safe, comfortable transportation isn't an issue, but transportation can be a serious matter for those who use wheelchairs. While more 98% of our country's transit buses are equipped with lifts and ramps, millions of wheelchair users live in locations without public transportation. The number of accessible taxis in major cities is growing, but that doesn't help wheelchair users who live in small cities and rural areas. Wheelchair accessible vans provide safe, reliable transportation for wheelchair users who want greater freedom and independence. Getting in and out of a non-accessible vehicle can put both the wheelchair user and the caretaker at risk for injury. An accessible vehicle, especially equipped for transporting wheelchair users, is the safest, most convenient and comfortable way to get people with disabilities on the road to errands, appointments, and good times anywhere. And people in wheelchairs have the choice of driving or enjoying the ride as a passenger.

Special Needs Vans Designed For Maximum Mobility

Maximum MobilityWhether you are an independent wheelchair user, a caretaker, a parent, or business that can benefit from a special needs van, the ideal customized accessible van is waiting for you. A side entry handicap accessible van typically has a powered wheelchair ramp with convenient interior and exterior controls, as well as manual back-up for emergency situations. Side entry vans have room for as many as passengers and one wheelchair user, and they're perfect for independently living people with disabilities who drive, or families with a wheelchair user. A long-channel, rear entry wheelchair modified van can carry two wheelchair users at the same time. This economical modification is perfect for businesses (nursing homes and non-emergency medical transport providers) and organizations (churches, schools) that provide wheelchair transport. Rear entry special needs vans usually feature a lightweight, spring-loaded manual ramp with a channel that runs from the rear of the van directly to the passenger area. You'll also find a variety of optional equipment, like wheelchair tie-downs, electronically monitored wheelchair docks, hand controls for driving, transfer seats, and other mobility equipment to customize your vehicle.

Rent Special Needs Vans

If you need a handicap accessible van temporarily, for a vacation or while healing from an injury that has put you in a wheelchair, AMS Vans has Read more

special needs transportation

What legal rights do students have?

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  • special education transportation

Transportation and Special Education Students

What legal rights do students have? 

By Diane Wiscarson, Attorney at Law  –

School transportation is frequently a source of confusion, and even frustration, for students with Individual Education Programs (IEPs) and their families. When does the district have to provide transportation? Who decides how and when transportation occurs? Is transportation on my child’s IEP? How do I know what my rights are for my child’s transportation? Can my child have an aide on the bus? These are a few questions that come up every year before school starts, and for summer services.

Under the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) transportation “as may be required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education” is a related service to be discussed at an IEP meeting. Transportation includes travel to/from school, travel between schools, and travel in and around school buildings. This article focuses on travel to/from school, and your child’s right to transportation.

Transportation decisions are made at IEP meetings on an individual basis. If a student with an IEP cannot get to/from school the same way as non-disabled students for a disability-related reason, then the district must provide transportation for the student. This generally means door-to-door transportation, both ways, between home and school. If the student needs transportation to benefit from education, the district supplies that transportation.

Types of Transportation 

Once the decision has been made by an IEP team that the child needs transportation, school districts choose the type of vehicle to transport the stud




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