Special Needs Transportation

Conference works to solve transportation challenges

Posted on April 1, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS —Wintry wind chill temperatures didn’t affect the velocity or enthusiasm in Indianapolis, where special-needs roadeo contestants and conference attendees kept to a fast pace of information exchange during the 18th National Conference & Exhibition on Transporting Students With Disabilities & Preschoolers.

The six-day meeting, held Feb. 27 to March 4 and sponsored by Edupro Group, stuck to its goals of delivering practical solutions, workable answers, proven best practices and hands-on training.

Increasingly popular vendor-sponsored sessions on wheelchair and passenger securements kicked off the event, with conferees and roadeo contestants joining in the demonstrations by representatives from Sure-Lok, Q’Straint and Tie Tech.

Sessions offered free to roadeo contestants concluded on Sunday with a lively interactive session, “3Rs for Drivers & Aides,” sponsored by Thomas Built Buses. Attendees worked together to find answers to scenarios that depicted some of the more challenging aspects of transporting children with disabilities and preschoolers. Panelists commented on the solutions offered.

Later in the conference, representatives from Blue Bird, Thomas Built, Collins Bus Corp. and Girardin addressed options for equipping the special- needs bus.

Tuesday offered a robust trade show, with a “T-Shirt Stimulus Plan” adding to the interaction between suppliers and attendees (converse, get vendor signatures, claim a T-shirt).

Communications figured prominently in this year’s program, with a first-ever session on communicating with terminal managers, dispatchers and call-center staff; training drivers about communication issues with preschoolers; efficient and effective communication techniques with students, parents, teachers and colleagues; preparing staff to work with difficult parents; and a session on developing an effective plan for communicating with your contractor.

Other popular presentations were those on empowering IEP teams to make appropriate decisions; a live, interactive case study to build an individualized transportation plan; and an afternoon devoted to roundtables on leadership, influence, communication, motivation and management.

As part of the conference, attendees visited the headquarters of IMMI, whose divisions include child safety restraint supplier SafeGuard, in nearby Westfield. The agenda included dinner, a plant tour and a live sled test.

As it has for many years, the conference offered the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s national training on child passenger safety restraint systems as a separate registration workshop. Two other separate registration workshops were offered.

Next year’s conference will be in Orlando, Fla., March 5-10. Details will be posted at www.eduprogroup.com.

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