People with Disabilities

People with Disabilities

People with disabilities vary in terms of the level of support they access in order to live independent lives. The federal government assists those with higher levels of needs through Centers for Independent Living (CILs; see below), Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs), and the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP).

In serving older adults and people with disabilities, ADRCs provide information to empower people to make informed decisions about their long-term services and supports and help people access public and private programs. ADRCs are an important part of the No Wrong Door (NWD) system model, a collaboration between ACL, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and the Veterans Health Administration. Contact information for many ADRCs can be found through the Eldercare Locator.

A young girl with Down Syndrome holding a doll

ODEP’s mission is to develop and influence policies and practices that increase the number and quality of employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Identifying the value of transportation

Begin with the mission of the CCAM-funded agency and ask, “How can transportation access contribute to the success of that mission?” For agencies serving people with disabilities, the importance of transportation may be tied to one or more of these value statements, which can serve as starting discussion points:

When people with disabilities have access to transportation, . . .

  • They are able to live in the environment they choose, whether it be their family home or a different, more appropriate dwelling.
  • They can access essential destinations that keep them healthy and allow them to contribute to their community in the way they choose.
  • They are better positioned to build up job experience and income, as well as access training to gain skills that lead to progress in their careers and embark on newer, more fulfilling jobs.
  • They have more reliable access to sources for healthy food, leading to improved nutrition and overall health.
  • It can support their mental well-being by allowing them to engage in activities they value and that are meaningful to them.

Program Listing

Below is a detailed description of programs relating to people with disabilities. Each listing contains, what type of transportation support is allowable, a brief program description, and ways for both mobility management professionals and program staff from other agencies to connect. 

Table of Contents

Listing Key
Direct Support

Funding for transportation on an individual basis. This includes things like transit passes or gas vouchers.

Direct Service

Program staff provide transportation services directly or can contract for services.

Local Match Eligible

Program’s funds can be used as federal match to FTA transportation grants or other federal programs. 

U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, Administration for Community Living
Program Description:

To support a statewide network of centers for independent living (CILs). CILs are consumer-controlled, community-based, cross-disability, nonresidential, private nonprofit agencies that are operated in local communities by individuals with disabilities. They provide an array of independent living services designed to enhance independence and productivity of individuals with significant disabilities and to promote their full inclusion and integration into the mainstream of American society.

Distribution of funds:

Discretionary project grants are provided to private nonprofit organizations (or a state agency in states in which no eligible private nonprofit organization applies for a grant). 

Transportation Support:

Services must include independent living core services, which are 1) information and referral services, 2) independent living skills training, 3) peer counseling, including cross-disability peer counseling, 4) individual and systems advocacy, and 5) other services to support individuals in transitioning to or staying in home and community-based residences. Sect. (7)(18)(xi) provides for “transportation, including referral and assistance for such transportation and training in the use of public transportation vehicles and systems.”

U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Office of Intellectual and Developmental Disability
Program Description:

To enable individuals with developmental disabilities to become independent, productive, integrated, and included into their communities. Funding under these programs is to assist States in the development of a plan for a comprehensive and coordinated system of services and other activities to enhance the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families to their maximum potential, and to support a system which protects the legal and human rights of individuals with developmental disabilities.

Distribution of funds:

Provides formula grants to state and territorial agencies. The state can only receive funding under the basic developmental disabilities program if it is also participating in the protection and advocacy program. The designated state agency in each state receives, accounts for and disburses funds, and provides for required assurances and other administrative support services on behalf of the State Developmental Disabilities Council, under an approved five year State Plan.  

Transportation Supports:

Allotments under the basic developmental disabilities formula grant program may be used by states for priority area and other activities, including administrative costs, to build capacity, to refocus existing services, and to advocate to better meet the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities. (2) Allotments under the protection and advocacy program may be used to assist states in supporting a system which will have authority to pursue legal and other remedies to protect the rights of individuals with developmental disabilities within the State.

U.S. Dept. of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration
Program Description:

The program aims to improve mobility for older adults and people with disabilities by removing barriers to transportation service and expanding transportation mobility options. This program supports transportation services planned, designed, and carried out to meet the transportation needs of older adults and people with disabilities in all areas – large urbanized (over 200,000), small urbanized (50,000-200,000), and rural (under 50,000). The funding can be used for “traditional” or “nontraditional” projects. “Traditional” projects are capital projects as defined in 49 U.S.C. 5302(3). “Nontraditional” projects are capital and/or operating projects that go beyond the scope of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) complementary paratransit services or public transportation alternatives designed to assist older adults and people with disabilities. 

Distribution of funds:

Provides formula funding to states and designated recipients to meet the transportation needs of older adults and people with disabilities when the transportation service provided is unavailable, insufficient, or inappropriate to meeting these needs. Funds are apportioned based on each state’s share of the population for these two groups. For rural and small urban areas, the designated recipient is the state department of transportation, whereas in large urban areas, a designated recipient is chosen by the governor. 

Transportation Supports:

Traditional Section 5310 project examples include 1) buses and vans; 2) wheelchair lifts, ramps, and securement devices; 3) transit-related information technology systems, including scheduling/routing/one-call systems; 4) mobility management; and 5) acquisition of transportation services under a contract, lease, or other arrangement. Nontraditional project examples include 1) travel training; 2) volunteer driver programs; 3) construction of an accessible path to a bus stop, including curb-cuts, sidewalks, accessible pedestrian signals or other accessible features; 4) improvements to signage, or way-finding technology; 5) incremental cost of providing same day service or door-to-door service; and 6) purchase of vehicles to support new accessible taxi, rides sharing and/or vanpooling programs.


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