What is Accessible Transportation?

Accessible transportation is transportation, whether by car, bus, plane, or sidewalk, that may be used by everyone – with or without disabilities – and does not have barriers. People with disabilities may face barriers when it comes to transportation, such as lack of affordable transportation options, inaccessible stations or vehicles, audio-only announcements, or obstructed walkways. These barriers may hinder them from attending school, going to work, and participating in their communities. Transportation with accessibility features benefit everyone. Examples of accessibility features in ground transportation include:

  • A lift or ramp to board or deboard a bus may be helpful for people using mobility devices, older adults who may not be able to climb stairs safely, or a parent pushing their child in a stroller.
  • Audio announcements of upcoming bus stops for people who have visual disabilities or for inexperienced travelers who may need help identifying their stop.
  • Curb-cuts make pedestrian pathways accessible for people using wheelchairs or other wheeled devices, such as walkers, strollers, or rolling luggage.
  • Cars with accessibility features may help people with disabilities travel to work, school, or their community independently.
  • A reader board on a bus may provide access to spoken announcements for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, or for anyone who missed the announcement when the bus is crowded and loud.

Examples of accessibility features or accommodations in air travel include:

  • A wheelchair or other guided assistance to board, deplane, or connect to another flight.
  • A seating accommodation that meets the traveler’s disability-related needs.
  • Assistance with the loading and stowing of assistive devices.
  • Captions on in-flight video, from safety instructions to entertainment.

There are several US laws that cover accessible transportation. Titles II and III of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) apply to both public and private ground transportation providers, while the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) applies to public and private air transportation providers. The Department of Transportation (DOT) regulates the ADA and ACAA rules that apply to transportation. DOT published a guide, Traveling with a Disability, for people with disabilities, airlines, and airports on their rights and responsibilities under the ACAA and includes disability training materials and other helpful materials. The NIDILRR-funded ADA National Network published a factsheet, The ADA & Accessible Ground Transportation, that provides an overview of the requirements that providers must follow, architectural requirements, complementary paratransit services, and more.

Contact NARIC’s information specialists to learn more about accessible transportation.