Head shot of Diane Mueller, white woman with short brown hair with glasses smiling
Diane Mueller is a mom
of 5 children, one of whom
has a disability. She has
spend much of her
working career as a
middle/high school science
teacher. She is
currently employed as a job
coach in a Project
SEARCH hospital program.

I have an adult daughter with Down Syndrome. She is 24 years old. She would like to be independent.  Independence requires choice and mobility. Imagine she is offered a job at a local day care center in an adjoining city.  Her dream job; she loves being around babies and young kids.  The hours they want her to work are 10am to 2pm Monday through Friday.  She wants the job, but can she take it? The location of the day care center is a 20-minute car ride from our house. We live in the auto capital of the world where public transportation is busing with limited routes and range. How is she going to get there and get home?

Option 1: My husband and I both work.  My husband leaves the house at 6am and gets home around 4:30pm.  I leave the house around 7:30 and return around 3:30.  If we drive her to work or pick her up she is waiting at her place of business for 2.5 hours before her shift and 1.5 hours after her shift to be picked up. 

Option 2:  Take the SMART bus fixed route.  This requires the job site to be within walking distance of a fixed route.  She has to be able to transfer bus lines.  In this case 2-3 times and be able to walk safely a quarter to half mile to get to a stop and/or job site.  We live in Michigan where we can have snowstorms that dump a bunch of snow.

Option 3: Take the ADA commuter bus.  Our house and the day care have to be within ¾ mile of a fixed bus route in order to be eligible for this door to door busing.  Our house location does not qualify.

Option 4:  Use the SMART local city bus.  This requires that our house and the job site be within the city limits or in the case of some cities within 1 mile of the city limits. The job site in the adjoining city makes this a nonviable option.

Option 5: Use Lift/Uber/Taxi. An expensive option and if used on a regular basis, might not come out ahead financially, meaning all the money you make is used to transport you to and from work. 

Option 6: Use or start a non-profit organization, limited range and availability

Option 7: Good Samaritan, friend or neighbor

Option 8: Direct Support Staff

When all is said and done, choice of work, activities of daily living, entertainment, visiting family/friends, appointments are limited by location of the activity, time of day, and cost. All centering on ones access to transportation or mobility. Mobility issues restrict independence in housing, jobs and access in general to life.  This issue is critical and needs to be addressed at all levels of government.