Faculty & Staff

Back to News & Events

TAD Increases Independent Bus Riding for Individuals with Disabilities

Professor Ray Miltenberger from the Master’s Program in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) saw an excellent opportunity for interdisciplinary research when he met Research Associate Sean Barbeau from the USF Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) at a function hosted by the Florida Center for Inclusive Communities, a University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service (housed within CFS).

After meeting over lunch with Barbeau and other colleagues to discuss research ideas, Miltenberger shared the information with one of his students from ABA, Arica Bolechala. Bolechala and Miltenberger soon began working with Barbeau to help evaluate a device used for increasing independent bus riding among individuals with disabilities.

The Travel Assistance Device (TAD) is a software application for GPS-enabled mobile phones developed by the CUTR and the Department of Computer Science & Engineering at USF and funded by the Florida Department of Transportation and the National Center for Transit Research.

According to Bolechala’s recently completed thesis research, Evaluating the Effectiveness of the Travel Assistance Device On the Bus Riding Behavior of Individuals with Disabilities, the TAD has a positive impact on a person’s ability to travel independently using public transportation.

The TAD prompts individuals via a cell phone to exit the bus at a pre-scheduled location. Once the software is downloaded to the cell phone, parents, travel trainers, or other authorized individuals can access the web management page to schedule trips to be transmitted to the cell phone. The TAD offers phone alerts for the user on the bus, real time tracking of the cell phone via the web management page, an alarm that triggers when the user deviates from the pre-scheduled route, and estimated arrival times shown to the rider while they are waiting for the bus. Bolechala’s thesis demonstrated that the TAD was successful in prompting individuals with disabilities to exit the bus at the correct location. Prior to the use of the TAD, the individuals were not able to exit the bus at the correct bus stop.

Bolechala, Miltenberger, Barbeau, and Gordon submitted this research for presentation at National Academy of Sciences’ Transportation Research Board annual meeting and for publication in the proceedings of the meeting. To view the findings, visit www.locationaware.usf.edu/ongoing-research/travel-assistance-device/.

Share this page