Some of my friends have trouble walking on our college campus, and have decided that using disability transportation services to get to class is the best decision for their health and safety. I’m very lucky to have classes close to my dorm that are not difficult to walk to, but have still used disability transportation services from time to time to get to meetings or to safely get to other buildings without getting hit by a car. Here are my tips for using disability transportation services in college.
What are disability transportation services?
Disability transportation services allow for students and staff with documented short term or long term disabilities to have access to door-to-door transportation between their dorm and other buildings on campus as needed. The exact method of transportation varies between colleges, though my college uses golf carts driven by student employees.
Each college calls their disability transportation services by a slightly different name, but some search terms you can use to find the service for your specific college include the name of the college and one of the following terms:
- Handicap transportation
- Physical access
- Door-to-door transport
- Disability transportation services
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Who can use disability transportation services
Each college has slightly different requirements for who can use disability transportation services, but almost all colleges allow students and faculty who meet the following criteria and that have supporting documentation:
- Short-term injuries such as a broken leg
- People who use mobility aids such as crutches or a wheelchair
- Blind and low vision people who use mobility aids such as a blindness cane
- People with medical conditions that make walking difficult
- People who have a handicap parking decal are often automatically approved with no additional documentation needed
Disability service files can sometimes be used as documentation, but most disability transportation services require additional documentation
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How to start receiving services
In order to start receiving disability transportation services, you will need to do the following:
- Fill out a form with the transportation office at their university or with the disability services office. Some forms can be filled out online
- Attach appropriate documentation to the form. This can be a doctor’s note or scan of handicap parking permit (which is what I used)
- From there, a phone or in-person interview is needed before receiving services so that users can learn how to request rides and become familiar with the service
- The timeline for approval varies, but I got approved the same day after submitting my documentation. After being approved, students can send a copy of their schedule and when/where they will need the service.
Requesting a ride
My friends who have their schedule on file with disability transportation services have set pick up and drop off times so they can quickly get to class. Since I use the service less regularly, I request rides by calling disability transportation services a few days in advance and ask if they can take me from point A to point B at a certain time. Prior to pickup, I typically receive a text saying my ride is on the way and I should be ready outside point A.
What to expect
- Check the hours of the disability transportation services, as they often only run during certain times. Plan your schedule with these hours in mind if you rely on these services to get to class
- You can’t expect disability transportation services to instantly appear at your command, so be patient and try to avoid calling for last-minute rides
- Some services will only take you to academic buildings, so you will still need to walk or use mobility aids to get to the dining hall or other non-academic places on campus
- If you need accessible transport to off-campus locations, look at disability transportation services for the city/county your college is in or check out ridesharing apps.
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I’m glad that my college has invested in disability transportation services for students who need them, and I was glad to learn when researching this post that many other colleges have similar services available for students. While I recognize that this service may not be for everyone, I highly recommend that students who have trouble getting to class safely and on time look into using disability transportation services to simplify getting to class.