Differences in national contexts have led to uneven global development of transportation systems that are accessible to people with disabilities. The World Health Organization promotes the worldwide implementation of education and professional training programs to foster a mindset supportive of accessibility . The education of future engineers is an essential component in this process.
Engineering degree programs are often challenged to cover fundamentals, leaving little time for students to pursue elective coursework or for faculty to integrate consideration of major global societal challenges into existing courses. Pedagogical approaches to content delivery also vary. Many programs focus exclusively on regulatory-based standards, while some programs seek to foster student empathy to improve user-centered design . This paper presents the results of research conducted jointly by two transportation engineering institutions, located in the Russian Federation and the United States respectively, to compare delivery approaches and content in degree-granting transportation curricula on the topic of accessibility. The purpose of the international collaboration was to identify promising practices for enhancing education efforts aimed at building a culture of accessibility for engineering professionals within two distinct national contexts.
Data collection was undertaken to better understand current practice, shortcomings, and successful strategies in accessibility education in Russia and the United States. Project partners conducted national scans of available curricula in their respective countries. The paper presents survey data on course content related to accessibility from eighty-five institutions of higher education in the United States offering transportation programs of study. The Russian institution’s national scan found little existing coursework on accessible transportation; the paper therefore presents information about the institution’s development of new degree-level coursework on accessibility to be implemented at education institutions nationwide. The information exchange and comparative analysis of approaches to accessibility education in the Russian Federation and the United States help to identify potential avenues for the application of successful education strategies to promote awareness of accessibility issues and to prepare engineering students for professional practice.
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