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January 10, 2012  |   Comments (1)   |   Post a comment

Insight on timely topics

Speakers during the NAPT Summit discuss such issues as bullying, wheelchair use, training and alternative fuels. Attendees also see several new school buses.

by Kelly Roher and Thomas McMahon

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Mary Ellen Buning of the University of Louisville in Kentucky shared preliminary findings from a Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center study on wheelchair use and safety in school transportation.
<p>Mary Ellen Buning of the University of Louisville in Kentucky shared preliminary findings from a Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center study on wheelchair use and safety in school transportation.</p>

Sessions address wheelchair use in school transportation, training
Also during the summit, attendees learned about the preliminary results of research conducted by the universities of Pittsburgh and Louisville for the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Wheelchair Transportation Safety.

Researchers surveyed bus drivers and attendants to obtain information on current practices in transporting wheelchair-seated students in school buses.

Mary Ellen Buning, Ph.D., OTR/L, ATP, of the University of Louisville in Kentucky, told conferees that the ultimate goal of the study is to “improve the safety of students who use wheelchairs and remain seated in them within vehicles.”

Buning said that her first impression based on the results of this survey is that bus drivers and attendants care about their students and they are trying to do a good job in securing and transporting them, but they often don’t have adequate training based on evidence and best practices.

Additionally, many respondents indicated a desire for more training on how to handle exceptions to standard wheelchair configurations seen in training.

In terms of training, Buning said that nearly all respondents reported that they have received instruction on how to secure a wheelchair in a school bus, but a small percentage reported that they have never received training.

Of those who have received training, many are trained annually, but some people reported that they were only trained at the time that they were hired.

To learn more about wheelchair transportation safety, go to

How to ensure that your department is providing effective training when training dollars have been slashed was one area that was discussed during a lively presentation on maintaining integrity under tough fiscal restraints by Linda Bluth, who concluded her two-year term as president of NAPT at the conference, and attorney and consultant Peggy Burns, owner of Education Compliance Group.

“Make use of every free resource you’ve got,” Bluth said, although she advised against relying on the web for everything.

Burns noted that one of the best ways to train without added expense is to look within your own school district.

“Bring in the physical therapist,” she recommended. “Bring in a teacher to tell you how she keeps kids in order at the end of the day.”

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Read more about: Blue Bird Corp., bullying, conferences, driver training, NAPT, Thomas Built Buses, Trans Tech Bus, wheelchairs

This makes so much sense! Buses pick up kids, drop them at school, then go back to base (to charge). Then go back out a few hours later to make another run. Then charge over night. Could there be a better application for this young technology?

Pete    |    Jan 12, 2012 08:19 AM

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