Special Needs Transportation

Special-needs handbook digs beneath the surface

Alexandra H. Robinson
Posted on September 1, 2001

One can immediately tell from the size of the table of contents (24 pages) that Dr. Ray Turner had his work cut out for him when he wrote his "Special Needs Transportation Handbook." There is an awesome amount of information between the covers of this comprehensive resource on transporting students with disabilities.

Defining disabilities
Beginning with an in-depth look at the characteristics of students with disabilities, Turner helps readers understand the unique needs of students with disabilities defined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), with a focus on how these disabilities affect related services like transportation. Turner explains disability symptoms in a manner that parents and drivers will find accessible and provides references to Websites for various community agencies and other resources. Throughout the book, a great deal of emphasis is put on the "team" concept, which cannot be overstated in our line of work. Turner does an excellent job describing communication goals and ideas for team planning. In addition to dis-cussing the team concept, Turner takes a close look at operational issues. These operational sections of the book, independent of the other sections, would make a great resource for a stand-alone training module. Turner has outlined almost every possible operational challenge for the reader and gives some excellent recommendations, the most useful of which I found to be his bus behavior policy section.

Offering hands-on advice
Finally, the handbook provides impressive information on evacuating students with disabilities and handling emergencies when transporting medically fragile students. Other special-needs resources often skim over the subject of emergency evacuation, but in this case Turner really digs below the surface. It would be impossible to hit on all of the handbook's high points in a single page, but I would definitely recommend this publication to other readers. Inclusion of a bibliography and use of additional color and graphics would make the book even better, but it is excellent as is. I think Turner should be commended on his approach to the subject and his ability to get such detailed information in one book. Author Alexandra Robinson is transportation director for the San Diego Unified School District and chairperson of the committee that developed "Access and Mobility," California's guidelines for transporting students with disabilities.

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