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Comparative Approaches to Accessibility Education in the United States and Russia

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society Division Technical Session 8

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

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Paper Authors


Susan Gallagher Montana State University

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Susan Gallagher is the Education and Workforce Program Manager at the Western Transportation Institute (WTI), a transportation research center within Montana State University’s College of Engineering. Her professional roles include grant writing, program development and management, research, and conducting community and educational outreach. She additionally manages: the West Region Transportation Workforce Center (WRTWC), a resource center serving a ten-state regional network of transportation organizations, workforce advocates, and educational institutions; the Research Experience for Teachers program at MSU on Innovative Transportation Systems; and the National Transportation Safety Career Pathways Initiative.

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Irina Karapetyants Russian University of Transport

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Dr. Irina Karapetyants serves as the Director of the Institute of International Transport Communications at the Russian University of Transport (RUT). She additionally leads a special Training Resource Center for Accessible Transportation that was established by the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation at RUT. Dr. Karapetyants’ research interests include international transport systems, innovations in education, international relations in the sphere of transport communications, iternational logistics and supply chain management, sustainable development and ecology.

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Karalyn Clouser Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University Orcid 16x16

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Karalyn Clouser is a GIS and planning specialist with the Western Transportation Institute. She has experience editing and managing spatial data to support transportation planning and implementation projects, and offers skills with numerous GIS tools and platforms. At WTI, she has provided GIS and planning support to the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Parks Technical Assistance Center, which assists with the development of alternative transportation on federal lands. Her experience includes developing a route numbering system for the Boise District office of the Bureau of Land Management in Idaho. Ms. Clouser earned her B.S. in Earth Sciences (GIS/Planning) from MSU and is currently working on her Master of Sustainable Transportation at UW.

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Natalie Marie Villwock-Witte P.E. Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Natalie Villwock-Witte is an Assistant Research Professor/Research Engineer at the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University. She has more than fourteen years of experience from both the practitioner and research side of transportation engineering. In addition, Natalie is a registered engineer in the state of New Mexico. Natalie has taught a short-term study abroad course through Montana State University and an introduction to engineering education course at the Central New Mexico Community College.

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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 [1]. 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 [2]. 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.

Gallagher, S., & Karapetyants, I., & Clouser, K., & Villwock-Witte, N. M. (2019, June), Comparative Approaches to Accessibility Education in the United States and Russia Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32523

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