Introduction to Travel Training
The Association of Travel Instruction (ATI) is an organization founded to promote travel instruction for individuals with disabilities and seniors, and to offer educational and professional development to practitioners of travel instruction. This organization, incorporated in 2001, grew out of a grant to develop competencies for the practice of teaching individuals with disabilities and seniors to travel independently using public transportation. ATI was the first such organization dedicated to improving access to travel training for individuals with disabilities and seniors while supporting and advocating for the providers of their practice.
The initial definition of travel training reflects the programs developed in the 1960s and 1970s. The focus of travel training in these programs was to teach individuals with significant developmental disabilities how to travel safely and independently in the community, using public transportation. To this end travel training was defined as one-to-one, short-term, intensive, comprehensive instruction in the skills necessary to travel safely and independently on public transportation. This definition was sufficient until some years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990. The ADA mandated that public transportation systems be accessible to individuals with disabilities, and the development of paratransit systems for those individuals who were not able to access or use the public transportation system.
The purpose of travel training is the provision of instructional services and supports to persons with disabilities, seniors, and other individuals who need assistance to use transportation independently. The increasing number of such individuals who want, and need, to develop independent travel skills and/or maintain their independent mobility in the community has created a demand for travel training services. The range of providers of travel instruction services now includes public transit agencies, school systems, non-profit agencies, adult service provider agencies, senior centers, rehabilitation centers, and independent living centers. It became obvious to ATI that the definition of travel training needed to be re-considered to reflect the expanded purpose of travel training and the range of services offered by the provider agencies to meet the needs of students/clients they serve.