First Advisor

Chris Monsere

Date of Award

Summer 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Civil & Environmental Engineering


Civil and Environmental Engineering




People with mental disabilities -- Services for, Choice of transportation, Urban transportation




People with intellectual and developmental disabilities live different lives than the general population. Often prohibited from driving, persons with intellectual disabilities cite transportation as top concern, limiting their independence and freedom to live, work or recreate where and when they choose. Improving services for persons with developmental disabilities requires that engineers and planners understand how persons with intellectual disabilities travel, and what types of transportation are available to them. This report hopes to identify the availability of transportation options to persons with developmental disabilities such that planners, engineers and advocates can determine how altering the transportation system might affect persons’ with intellectual disabilities access to jobs, housing and services. Understanding the challenges inherent in various forms of transportation can help advocates prioritize the barriers to access, and which should be addressed immediately, and which need further discussion and research before a plan can be implemented.

This paper gathered data through an online survey of persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities, through advocacy organizations. The survey asked how often trips were made for various purposes, what modes were used to reach destinations, the level of concern for various modes and concerns, the level of independence and transportation skills, and how improved infrastructure might alter the independence of persons with developmental disabilities.

The results showed that persons with intellectual disabilities had more options to travel to daily tasks such as working or day programs, and that paratransit services were not utilized in any widespread manner except for these daily trips. For less frequent trips, persons with developmental disabilities are reliant on caregivers to provide transportation. The top concern for walking and cycling was traffic-safety, for fixed-route transit service it was being alone and for paratransit service it was the speed of the service. Finally, survey respondents reported that better non-motorized infrastructure would increase their independence.

These results should be used to address the concerns in today’s transportation system for persons with developmental disabilities, and by creating a basic understanding for researchers, advocates and decisionmakers when designing future research or changes to the current transportation system.



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A research project report submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering.

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