Driver Evaluation and Training for Individuals with Disabilities
Easter Seals Crossroads Driver Evaluation and Training Program is a comprehensive program offering first time drivers with disabilities or previous drivers with multiple medical conditions or age-related changes the opportunity to drive. Our driving program was established in 1986 and we service individuals throughout Central Indiana.
Our team of Occupational Therapy Practitioners understands the importance of driving as a key component to your independence. Our staff includes Occupational Therapy Practitioners that are Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialists recognized by ADED and AOTA; they have received specialty certification by the State of Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles to teach individuals how to drive using a bioptic telescope.
We offer adaptive driving services that include:
- clinical and behind-the-wheel assessments
- behind-the-wheel training to new drivers with disabilities
- behind-the-wheel training for previous drivers that may need adaptive equipment in order to operate a motor vehicle
- driving skills to increase safety for older drivers
- teaching techniques to improve safety for individuals with vision deficits in conjunction with a low vision optometrist or ophthalmologist.
- training in the use of bioptic telescopes in conjunction with a low vision optometrist and Indiana BMV evaluation of vehicle and equipment needs
Driver Evaluation and Training
Our functional disability driver evaluation includes both a clinical and behind-the-wheel assessment of the client’s potential to drive a motor vehicle independently. We have vehicles that are equipped with adaptations to closely match an individual's physical needs. This will allow the opportunity to operate the adaptive equipment in a controlled and safe environment. Clients will receive a written report with recommendations outlining the amount of training and any additional services needed in order to become an independent driver.
The evaluation includes:
- medical history and current medications
- driving history and current driving needs
- visual assessment (vision and visual perception)
- physical assessment (brake reactions, range of motion, strength, sensation, coordination, balance)
- cognitive assessment (memory, judgment, insight, multitasking, command following, abstract thinking, mapping, etc.)
- traffic safety and road rules knowledge
- behavioral assessment
- adaptive equipment needs
- behind-the-wheel ability
All driver training is individualized by one of our driver rehabilitation specialists according to the person’s specific strengths and weaknesses as determined by the evaluation. Behind-the-wheel training will be provided in one of our cars that can be adapted or our adapted mini-van based upon the client’s individual needs. Training sessions are customized and an approximate number of training hours will be determined at the time of evaluation. Instruction will also include wheelchair or other mobility equipment loading and unloading from the vehicle.
Older Driver Safety
As an individual ages, changes in physical, mental, and/or sensory abilities can challenge the ability to drive safely. Our driving specialists are occupational therapy practitioners that have the knowledge base to understand progressive age-related conditions and life changes that can affect driving. Our comprehensive driving evaluation includes a clinical and behind-the-wheel evaluation to assess current abilities. We offer recommendations that can include:
- behind-the-wheel training to improve driving skills
- adaptations, assistive devices, or compensatory strategies to improve safety
- mapping skills to provide safe alternate routes in the community
- cessation from driving and alternate transportation ideas
- independently operate a vehicle
Bioptic Telescope Driving
Bioptic driving is a method of driving that utilizes both the client’s general vision and intermittent vision through a small telescopic system that improves the sharpness of the client’s vision. Some eye conditions can include albinism, nystagmus, corneal diseases, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, histoplasmosis, Stargardt’s disease and achromatopsia.
A team approach is utilized for bioptic driving. This team includes a low vision optometrist, driving specialist certified in bioptics, and the Indiana BMV. All of our driving specialists are certified in bioptic driving and are active members of the bioptic team approach. Bioptic driving requires extensive training in both the use of the telescope and behind-the-wheel. Indiana BMV requires a minimum of 30 hours behind-the-wheel training. To determine if an individual is a candidate for bioptic telescope driving, one must be referred by a low vision optometrist. Contact our office for further information.
Low Vision and Driving
Our driving specialists are trained in adaptive techniques to enhance the safety in operating a motor vehicle if there are low vision issues. We work closely with optometrists and ophthalmologists as well as our occupational therapy low vision staff to determine if a person is a candidate to continue to drive safely. Some common diagnoses include mild loss of central vision, constricted visual fields, hemianopsia, diplopia, macular degeneration, corneal diseases, cataracts, glaucoma, mid-line shift, and retinal detachment. Our driving specialists can provide behind-the-wheel training with prisms, adaptive mirrors, and compensatory techniques for the goal of independent driving.
Vehicle Modification Evaluations
The purpose of a vehicle modification evaluation is to assure an accurate and correctly fitted vehicle to the client’s personal needs. Our driving rehabilitation specialists can evaluate cars, mini-vans, full-size vans, SUVs, and trucks for clients that are licensed adaptive drivers, currently participating in adaptive driver training, or vehicle passengers. Upon completion of a vehicle modification evaluation, the client will receive a written report with a vehicle prescription and will be assisted in the process of working with a vendor toward the completion of the adapted vehicle. It is recommended that the client not purchase a new vehicle prior to this evaluation.
The vehicle modification evaluation will include:
- medical history and physical needs
- adaptive driving equipment needs
- wheelchair or scooter measurements
- loading/unloading and storage of wheelchair or scooter
- vehicle selection to assure vehicle meets client’s needs
The Bureau of Motor Vehicles is the final authority on an individual's qualifications to drive.
For information about Driver Evaluation and Training, please contact us.