Q&A: Transporting Students with Disabilities Conference

One of the great childhood rites of passage is riding a big yellow bus to school while surrounded by giggling classmates. Of course, upholding this American tradition can be a safety challenge when a child needs to be accompanied by his or her wheelchair. The 15th National Conference on Transporting Students with Disabilities & Preschoolers, March 3-8 in Orlando, Fla., sought to provide new ideas, solutions and education on that topic. Mobility Management chatted with Invacare's Group Product Manager of Powered Mobility, Ben Kingery, on his experiences at the event.

MM: Who attended the conference?

Ben Kingery: Transportation directors, supervisors and coordinators, including Head Start transporters, school bus contractors, driver trainers, drivers, special education officials, school system occupational and physical therapists and nurses.

MM: What was your official involvement?

Kingery: I attended an OT/PT/transporter forum on Wheelchair Labeling & Liability: Issues & Answers. Invacare also exhibited and displayed two power and two manual wheelchairs that have been crash-tested to ANSI/RESNA WC Vol. 1 Section 19.5.3 (WC-19).

MM: What do you hope attendees learned? Have you received any feedback from since your return?

Kingery: Attendees and members of the conference team seemed to be pleasantly surprised by Invacare's attendance this year. We had not participated in many years. I think people now know that Invacare is addressing the subject of wheelchair transportability and that we have a complete line of WC-19 crash-tested designs.

In the booth, we answered questions about our WC-19 crash-tested models, now 17 different manual and power wheelchairs. The exhibition gave us the opportunity to have one-on-one discussions about what we are testing and what they can expect in terms of product and labeling. For example, there were questions regarding the use of a pelvic restraint provided with the crash-tested model versus the use of a positioning strap. Others wanted to see the booklet on the chair that describes use of the tie-down system.

Overall, this conference provided nearly everyone in the process the opportunity to have an open dialogue about the topic.

This show and the NMEDA conference are some great venues to discuss wheelchair transportability, but not everyone is talking to each other at the same time. We need to come up with a way to get all the parties together at once. We've got wheelchair manufacturers, DME providers, clinicians, lift/van conversion manufacturers, school transportation officials, public transportation officials, bus attendants, assistive technology providers, docking device manufacturers, automotive manufacturers and, most importantly, consumers (with and without children) -- all with a vested interest in the topic.

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