Para-transit and personal drivers can be critical links to resources for people with disabilities. Para-transit drivers operate accessible vehicles in compliance with federal law (Americans with Disabilities Act), providing transportation for people with disabilities who cannot use public transportation.Para-transit drivers complete specialized training and receive state licenses that are appropriate for the safe operation of their vehicle. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics describes the job of a chauffeur as “ driv(ing) people to and from the places they need to go…”. A chauffeur---whether dressed in a formal uniform or jeans---can be particularly helpful to people with disabilities who cannot safely drive. Private drivers can work on a full-time or part-time basis. In some households, a single individual serves as a driver and also performs other household tasks.
Safety is the primary consideration in hiring a driver.The license and driving record of an applicant should be reviewed. The car that is driven should be appropriately inspected, registered and insured. Certification in disability issues and interventions are valuable credentials when obtained from reputable organizations.Inquire about a driver's training in evacuation and emergency procedures, First Aid, CPR, Automated Extended Defibrilation (AED) and service animals. Your driver should have a grasp of disability realities including hidden disabilities, visual and hearing disabilities, communication disabilities and seizure disorders.
Drivers should be trained to operate assistive equipment such as lifts, and to secure wheelchairs and their occupants. Accessible public and para-transit transportation reflect laws that protect the right of people with disabilities to full participation in society.Public buses now have wheelchair lifts, and railroad trains are required to have a wheelchair accessible car. Yet, despite these advances,a private driver can enhance the safety and comfort of a passenger with disabilities. A private driver, for example, makes it unnecessary for a person with disability to endure the long waits in unpleasant weather that can accompany public and para-transit transportation. A wait period of one hour for para-transit is permitted by law. Private drivers can also provide a standard of service that is not otherwise available.For example, para-transit drivers meet ADA standards for curbside service, not the door to door service that is a hallmark of a private driver. A para-transit driver does not accompany a passenger to their home, and certainly does not hang up a coat or bring a refreshing drink.
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