Many school-aged children with handicaps are transported in school buses. A recent amendment to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act has established requirements for infants and toddlers to have access to developmental and rehabilitation facilities. This amendment, to Part H of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (enacted as part of Public Law 102-119), however, does not specify how these children are to be transported to these facilities, a responsibility that will be faced by many school systems.
FMVSS 222 (School Bus Passenger Seating and Crash Protection) established safety requirements for school bus interiors, but to date it only applied to able-bodied children. However, an amendment to FMVSS 222 becomes effective in January 1994 that applies to the securement of wheelchairs and their occupants in school buses. National recommended standards for special education school buses were revised in May 1990 by the Eleventh National Standards Conference on School Transportation.1
Wheelchairs are the primary mode of transport on the school bus for many children with special needs. They have not been developed as safety restraint devices, however, and are not currently subjected to any crash-testing requirements. Research,2-5 nevertheless, has provided a basis for recommendations concerning occupant securement for a wheelchair-dependent child and a child with special needs who is transported on a school bus:
1. Any child who can assist with transfer or be "reasonably" moved from a wheelchair, stroller, or special seating device to the original manufacturer's forward-facing vehicle seat equipped with dynamically tested occupant restraints or be "reasonably" moved to a child car seat complying with FMVSS 213 requirement should be so transferred for transportation to and from school.
- Copyright © 1994 by the American Academy of Pediatrics