270382 Equal Access for Children with Disabilities: Evaluating Accessibility for Montana Elementary School's Safe Routes

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Meg Ann Traci, PhD , Rural Institute, The University of Montana, Missoula, MT
Helen Russette, Undergraduate , Rural Institute on Disabilities, The University of Montana, Missoula, MT
Holly Horan , Department of Anthropology, The University of Montana, Missoula, Missoula, MT
The Montana Disability and Health Program (MTDH) has partnered with the Montana Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and Safe Routes To School (SRTS) coordinators to conduct an accessibility assessment of pre-identified safe routes at elementary schools (n=44) in Montana (n=4 counties). This study highlights the importance of including accessibility in the federally-funded SRTS Program. These efforts will include children with disabilities in the evaluation and the program development processes. The development and testing of the Safe and Accessible Route Evaluation Criteria (SAREC) is included in this study as a prototype. Criteria include evaluating the accessibility of sidewalks, alleys and driveways, and corner crossings that children with disabilities may encounter while enroute to school. Measurements conducted will include the use of a tape measure, ADA Accessibility Stick II, SAREC, and a Priority Areas Diagram that is specifically created for each school. Accessibility Ambassadors from each local CIL will evaluate school routes (n=616) using the point allotment system from the SAREC to measure priority areas (n=4) for accessibility. Routes that were identified as inaccessibile are graded based on their degree of usability (the likelihood that a child with a disability would still be able to travel along the route) and fixability (the degree in which the solution to the accessibility barrier is feasible). Outcomes of each county's evaluations will be discussed. A statewide analysis will also be included in this discussion. Additional outcomes, evaluation results, and future directions will be presented and discussed.

Learning Areas:
Chronic disease management and prevention
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the usability, accessibility and fixability assessments of pre-identified safe routes for elementary schools in four Montana counties. Describe the Safe and Accessible Route Evaluation Criteria that was developed by staff at the Montana Disability and Health Prorgram (MTDH), Montana Safe Routes to School coordinators, and specialists from the Montana Centers for Independent Living (CIL). Identify the accessibility barriers on pre-identified safe routes and the potential solutions for fixing them. Discuss the need for safe and accessible routes to reduce chronic diseases associated with obesity in children with disabilities.

Keywords: Disability, Children With Special Needs

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: The Safe and Accessible Route Evaluation Criteria (SAREC) is a measurement instrument that uses a point allotment system to score the accessibility of pre-identified safe routes at elementary schools. The SRAEC measures a route’s accessibility based on a

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Meg Traci was trained as an experimental psychologist at The University of Montana and specializes in both early childhood and life-span development. Dr. Traci works at The University of Montana Rural Institute: A Center for Excellence in Disability Education, Research, and Services (UMRI). Currently, she is detailed to direct a MDPHHS grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Montana Disability and Health Program: Living Well Under the Big Sky (MTDH).
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.