AAPD promotes equal access to transportation for people with disabilities, including promoting improved accessibility in public transportation and substantial investment in accessible transit options and transit-oriented development.

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Access to affordable and reliable transportation allows people with disabilities important opportunities in education, employment, healthcare, housing and participation in community life. Because our nation’s investments in transportation infrastructure have disproportionately favored cars and highways, those who cannot afford cars or do not operate cars often lack viable transportation options. People with disabilities—particularly in rural areas—need accessible, affordable transportation options that bring employment, health care, education, and community life within reach.

Transportation Equity

AAPD works to ensure equal access to reliable, affordable transportation for people with disabilities by advocating for federal transportation investments that connect people with disabilities to employment opportunities, health care, education, and community. AAPD is a member of the Leadership Conference Transportation Equity Coalition.

At a time of high unemployment and unprecedented income inequality, equity in transportation policy is one of the most pressing civil and human rights issues our nation faces.

Where We Need to Go: A Civil Rights Roadmap, The Leadership Conference Education Fund

The bottom line:

  • $9,498: average annual cost of owning a car.
  • $58,736: median annual income of householders without disabilities.
  • $25,550: median annual income of householders with disabilities.
  • 26 percent: the percentage of adults with disabilities who do not have a car.1
  • 80 percent: portion of federal transportation funding dedicated to highways.

—From the United States Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Our nation’s transportation investments are particularly crucial for Americans with disabilities, who disproportionately utilize non-automobile transit options such as rail, buses, and pedestrian-friendly development. The surface transportation reauthorization bill allocates federal funding to infrastructure repair and new transportation needs. AAPD works with a broad coalition of organizations to promote investments in accessible, affordable transportation that connects people with disabilities to employment opportunities, health care providers, and educational institutions, promoting full participation in public life.

We Will Ride

Fully autonomous vehicles have the potential to reshape the transportation landscape for people with disabilities, especially those who cannot get a driver’s license. But this can only happen if automakers start making vehicles that are accessible to all of us -– so we can all ride.

The We Will Ride Campaign was founded by leaders in the disability rights movement to ensure that the coming transportation revolution of autonomous vehicles reaches its potential to serve all Americans.

We work to develop a constructive conversation around the needs of Americans with disabilities and how automobile manufacturers and other key institutions can meet them.

Current coalition members include:

  • American Association of People with Disabilities
  • National Council on Independent Living
  • Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund
  • United Spinal Association
  • Paralyzed Veterans of America

Assessing the Unmet Transportation Needs of Americans with Disabilities

“Assessing the Unmet Transportation Needs of Americans with Disabilities” is a report published by James des Cognets and Greg Rafert, Ph. D., of Analysis Group, Inc (AGI). AGI is an economic and financial analysis consultancy that constructs academic studies — AAPD commissioned this report from AGI to fill a gap in publicly-available data on the need/demand for accessible vehicles. Read more about the report here.

Support for Santa Clara VTA Accessible Automated Vehicle Demonstrations

AAPD’s President and CEO, Helena Berger wrote a letter to offer support for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) Accessible Automated Vehicle Demonstrations. This important and innovative set of demonstrations, as part of a proposal led by VTA and supported by the Veterans Administration Palo Alto Health Care System, Prospect Silicon Valley, UC Berkeley, Caltrans, and automated vehicle partners, will yield an essential demonstration of advanced transit services and address a critical need to improve accessibility for all, while contributing significantly to the understanding of automated vehicle safety.

Laws on Accessibility in Transportation

There are several federal laws that address transportation access for people with disabilities, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, Air Carrier Access Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Americans with Disabilities Act

Title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in public transportation services, such as city buses and public rail (subways, commuter trains, etc.). Public transportation services must:

  • Comply with accessibility requirements in newly purchased vehicles
  • Make good faith efforts to purchase or lease accessible used buses
  • Remanufacture buses in an accessible manner
  • Provide paratransit (assisted transportation) where they operate fixed route bus or rail systems, unless it would cause an undue burden

For more information on the ADA and accessible transportation regulations, see the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Air Carrier Access Act

The Air Carrier Access Act prohibits discrimination by U.S. or foreign air carriers on the basis of disability and requires airlines to accommodate the needs of people with disabilities.

Carriers may not:

  • Refuse transportation to people on the basis of disability
  • Require advance notice that a person with a disability is traveling
  • Limit the number of people with disabilities on a flight
  • Require a person with a disability to travel with an attendant, except in certain limited circumstances

Carriers must make airplanes accessible and provide certain services and accommodations for passengers with disabilities, including boarding assistance and allowances for assistive devices.

Paralyzed Veterans of America is collecting stories on air travel experiences from passengers with disabilities – share your story!

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination based on disability in any programs receiving federal funds.  Recipients of Federal aid and state and local entities that are responsible for roadways and pedestrian facilities must therefore ensure equal access for people with disabilities to roads and sidewalks, rest areas and pedestrian overpasses and underpasses. Learn more about Section 504.


Use the links below to file a complaint with the US Department of Transportation regarding public transportation accessibility or disability discrimination in:

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