Travel Assistance Device (TAD) to Help Transit Riders - Deployment to transit agencies

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Subject Area

place - north america, technology - geographic information systems, mode - bus, mode - rail, policy - disability, planning - education, mode - paratransit


global positioning systems, assistive technologies, travel assistance device (TAD), mobile phone, cellular phone, mobile navigation device, travel training, mobility training


The ability to travel where and when one desires is a basic requirement for independent living that most people take for granted. To travel independently, a transit rider practices at least 23 skills including finding the route, arriving at the correct stop on time, and determining when to exit at destination. Travel trainers who provide one-on-one instruction on public transportation, report that recognizing a landmark near the desired bus stop, requesting a stop at the proper time, and exiting the bus at the destination stop are among the most challenging skills to master for individuals with cognitive disabilities. Parents/guardians are often reluctant to encourage the use of fixed-route transit due to their own hesitations about a person's abilities and well being. Prior studies by the research team developed the Travel Assistance Device (TAD) mobile phone software application that addresses these challenges and supplements the trainer’s instruction. TAD provides various informational prompts including the audio messages “Get ready” and “Pull the cord now!” and vibrates to alert the rider to pull the stop cord. These prompts are delivered to the rider in real-time as he or she rides the bus using the embedded global positioning system (GPS) technology in off-the-shelf cell phones.