The National Academies


Improving Inclusion by Addressing Gaps in Measuring Disability in Transportation Data Systems

Posted Date: 6/14/2024

  Project Data
Funds: $300,000
Contract Time: 24 months
(includes 1 month for TCRP review and approval of the interim report and 3 months for TCRP review and contractor revision of the final report)
Authorization to Begin Work: 11/1/2024 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Jamaal Schoby
   Phone: 202-334-2321
   Email: jschoby@nas.edu
RFP Close Date: 8/1/2024
Fiscal Year: 2024


In 2023, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 44 million Americans lived with some form of disability, including visual, hearing, mobility, and cognitive disabilities. The current methods for collecting mobility data on people with disabilities are inadequate for planning and delivering inclusive and equitable mobility options. The public transportation industry needs to be able to access usable and shareable data that accounts for diversity across multiple dimensions of disability. There are three primary limitations in identifying people with disabilities and their travel experiences and preferences using current national and local datasets:

  • Characteristics: lack of measurement reflecting diverse types of disability. The exclusion of metrics accounting for the diversity in the disability community leads to a critical gap in transportation’s ability to make informed, data-driven decisions.
  • Environment: lack of data on the intersection between environment and travel behavior. Environmental barriers, policies, and resources impact mobility for individuals with disabilities. The industry lacks this information in consistent and shareable formats.
  • Methods: lack of alignment between research questions, survey designs, and data needs. Current research methods present numerous challenges for understanding the disability experience, for example, measuring only trips taken, focusing on paratransit trips, or limiting data collection to a cross-sectional research design.



The objective of this research is to develop a guide for designing and implementing national and local data collection systems that accurately measure the travel experiences of people with disabilities. The outcome of this research will enable the transportation industry to collect and use this data to improve service provision and mobility options for people with disabilities.


The guide should address strategies to:

  • Strengthen methods for collecting mobility data on people with disabilities, including ways to disaggregate data by meaningful subgroups.
  • Align research, design, and data needs to address mobility data needs and patterns of people with disabilities and produce actionable insights for the industry, including transit agencies, human services organizations, and policymakers.
  • Suggest inclusive measurement criteria beyond travel-limiting medical conditions to capture the full spectrum of disabilities, ensuring inclusivity and representation.


Proposers are asked to develop and present a detailed research approach for accomplishing the project objective. The work proposed must be divided into tasks and proposers must describe the work proposed in each task. Proposers are expected to present a research plan that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals shall: (1) present the proposer’s current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meet the research objective, (2) identify data and data sources that may be used to undertake this research, and (3) propose the format(s) of the final research product(s).

The research plan should employ a Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) approach. The research should include, at a minimum:

  • Stakeholder analysis. Conduct a holistic stakeholder analysis that includes users, caregivers, advocates, service providers, technology partners, regulatory agencies, and data experts.
  • Built environmental scan. Complete a built environmental scan to include the data systems pertaining to persons with disabilities. Identify any other data collection sources that could be mined or modified to track needs, travel experiences, preferences, and use patterns.
  • Needs assessment. Conduct a needs assessment to identify knowledge gaps in commonly used data systems (e.g., the American Community Survey and National Household Travel Survey) as well as those not typically used (e.g., the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Labor, Health Resources and Services Administration, and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Common Performance Reporting) around disability questions, environmental challenges, and barriers for people with disabilities.
  • Data dictionary. Create a data dictionary that develops a taxonomy to describe disabilities and how they impact mobility, and to similarly classify and measure the specific characteristics of barriers to mobility for individuals with specific disabilities.
  • Data analysis plan. Develop a data analysis plan to incorporate the qualitative and quantitative data from the built environmental scan and needs assessment.

The research plan shall be divided into tasks, detailing the proposed work. The research plan shall describe appropriate deliverables which represent key project milestones, including:

  • An amplified research plan that responds to comments provided by the project panel at the contractor selection meeting. The research plan should:
    • Describe how people with disabilities are included in this research project, as aligned with CBPR principles.
    • Consider applicable local, state, and federal laws, and guidance published by the U.S. Access Board.
    • Consider how anecdotal experience can be incorporated into data collection and introduce questions and metrics that account for the diversity in the disability community, including physical, sensory, cognitive, invisible, and age-related disabilities.
    • Demonstrate knowledge of related domestic and international literature and of completed and ongoing research relevant to this research project.
    • Support the development of standards for improved accessibility in transit service delivery, communications, vehicles, and infrastructure.
  • Monthly and quarterly progress reports detailing activities by task, upcoming task activities, and issues.
  • An interim report that includes results from completed tasks (at a minimum, the stakeholder analysis, build environmental scan, and needs assessment) and a plan for completing the remaining tasks.
  • A panel meeting after submission of the interim report. The panel meeting will take place in Washington, DC, after the expenditure of about 40 to 50 percent of the project budget.
  • A technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products” (see Special Note J).
  • A draft report and final report. The final deliverable should include a guide that addresses this research project’s objective and CBPR and provides a template that can be customized to capture information about diversity in the disability community.
    • The report’s recommendations should consider accessibility and usability, including interoperability with assistive technologies, plain language, and recommendations for alternative formats of data collection.
    • To the extent possible, proposers should develop a plan for allowing public transportation agencies to review and validate the guide’s contents.
  • A slide deck that adheres to World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) open web platform standards and presents the research findings and conclusions that may be used in webinars.  

Note: The research plan may include additional deliverables and additional panel meetings via Microsoft Teams.


A. All deliverables should be accessible to people with disabilities, including plain language. 

B. The Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals for the Transportation Research Board’s Cooperative Research Programs were revised in May 2023. Please take note of the new and revised text which is highlighted in yellow. 

C. Proposals must be submitted as a single PDF file with a maximum file size of 10 MB. The PDF must be formatted for standard 8 ˝” X 11” paper, and the entire proposal must not exceed 60 pages (according to the page count displayed in the PDF). Proposals that do not meet these requirements will be rejected. For other requirements, refer to chapter V of the instructions.

D. The Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals for the Transportation Research Board’s Cooperative Research Programs have been modified to include a revised policy and instructions for disclosing Investigator Conflict of Interest. For more information, refer to chapter IV of the instructions. A detailed definition and examples can be found in the CRP Conflict of Interest Policy for Contractors. The proposer recommended by the project panel will be required to submit an Investigator Conflict of Interest and Disclosure Form as a prerequisite for contract negotiations. 

E. Proposals will be rejected if any of the proposed research team members work for organizations represented on the project panel. The panel roster for this project can be found at Online Directory (mytrb.org). Proposers may not contact panel members directly; this roster is provided solely for the purpose of avoiding potential conflicts of interest. 

F. Proprietary Products - If any proprietary products are to be used or tested in the project, please refer to Item 6 in the Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals.

G. Proposals are evaluated by the TCRP staff and project panels consisting of individuals collectively knowledgeable in the problem area. The project panel will recommend their first choice proposal considering the following factors: (1) the proposer's demonstrated understanding of the problem; (2) the merit of the proposed research approach and experiment design; (3) the experience, qualifications, and objectivity of the research team in the same or closely related problem area; (4) the plan for ensuring application of results; (5) how the proposer approaches inclusion and diversity in the composition of their team and research approach, including participation by certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprises; and, if relevant, (6) the adequacy of the facilities. A recommendation by the project panel is not a guarantee of a contract. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS - the contracting authority for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine) will conduct an internal due diligence review and risk assessment of the panel’s recommended proposal before contract negotiations continue. 

Note: The proposer's approach to inclusion and diversity as well as participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises should be incorporated in Item 11 of the proposal.

H. Copyrights - All data, written materials, computer software, graphic and photographic images, and other information prepared under the contract and the copyrights therein shall be owned by the National Academy of Sciences. The contractor and subcontractors will be able to publish this material for non-commercial purposes, for internal use, or to further academic research or studies with permission from TRB Cooperative Research Programs. The contractor and subcontractors will not be allowed to sell the project material without prior approval by the National Academy of Sciences. By signing a contract with the National Academy of Sciences, contractors accept legal responsibility for any copyright infringement that may exist in work done for TRB. Contractors are therefore responsible for obtaining all necessary permissions for use of copyrighted material in TRB's Cooperative Research Programs publications. For guidance on TRB's policies on using copyrighted material please consult Section 5.4, "Use of Copyrighted Material," in the Procedural Manual for Contractors.

I. Proposals should include a task-by-task breakdown of labor hours for each staff member as shown in Figure 4 in the Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals. Proposals also should include a breakdown of all costs (e.g., wages, indirect costs, travel, materials, and total) for each task using Figures 5 and 6 in the brochure. Please note that TRB Cooperative Research Program subawards (selected proposers are considered subawards to the National Academy of Sciences, the parent organization of TRB) must comply with 2 CFR 200  Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. These requirements include a provision that proposers without a "federally" Negotiated Indirect Costs Rate Agreement (NICRA) shall be subject to a maximum allowable indirect rate of 10% of Modified Total Direct Costs. Modified Total Direct Costs include all salaries and wages, applicable fringe benefits, materials and supplies, services, travel, and up to the first $25,000 of each lower tier subaward and subcontract. Modified Total Direct Costs exclude equipment, capital expenditures, charges for patient care, rental costs, tuition remission, scholarships and fellowships, participant support costs and the portion of each lower tier subaward and subcontract in excess of $25,000.

J. The required technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products” should (a) provide recommendations on how to best put the research findings/products into practice; (b) identify possible institutions that might take leadership in applying the research findings/products; (c) identify issues affecting potential implementation of the findings/products and recommend possible actions to address these issues; and (d) recommend methods of identifying and measuring the impacts associated with implementation of the findings/products. Implementation of these recommendations is not part of the research project and, if warranted, details of these actions will be developed and implemented in future efforts.

K. The text of the final deliverable is expected to be publication-ready when it is submitted. It is strongly recommended that the research team include the expertise of a technical editor as early in the project timeline as possible. See Appendix F of the Procedural Manual for Contractors Conducting Research in the Transportation Research Boards Cooperative Research Program for technical editing standards expected in final deliverables. 

L. If the team proposes a Principal Investigator who is not an employee of the Prime Contractor, or if the Prime Contractor is proposed to conduct less than 50% of the total effort (by time or budget), then section five of the proposal should include: (1) a justification of why this approach is appropriate, and (2) a description of how the Prime Contractor will ensure adequate communication and coordination with their Subcontractors throughout the project.

M. All budget information should be suitable for printing on 8˝″ x 11″ paper. If a budget page cannot fit on a single 8˝″ x 11″ page, it should be split over multiple pages. Proposers must use the Excel templates provided in the Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals for the Transportation Research Boards Cooperative Research Programs.

N. The National Academies have an ethical and legal obligation to provide proper attribution whenever material from other sources is included in its reports, online postings, and other publications and products. TRB will review all Cooperative Research Programs draft final deliverables using the software iThenticate for potential plagiarism. If plagiarized text appears in the draft final deliverable, the research team will be required to make revisions and the opportunity to submit future proposals may be affected.  

Proposals must be uploaded via this link: https://www.dropbox.com/request/XReU5NX7s0nLebkm93oW 
Proposals are due not later than 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on 8/1/2024.

This is a firm deadline, and extensions are not granted. In order to be considered for award, the agency's proposal accompanied by the executed, unmodified Liability Statement must be in our offices not later than the deadline shown, or the proposal will be rejected.

Liability Statement

The signature of an authorized representative of the proposing agency is required on the unaltered statement in order for TRB to accept the agency's proposal for consideration. Proposals submitted without this executed and unaltered statement by the proposal deadline will be summarily rejected. An executed, unaltered statement indicates the agency's intent and ability to execute a contract that includes the provisions in the statement.

Here is a fillable PDF version of the Liability Statement. A free copy of the Adobe Acrobat PDF reader is available at https://www.adobe.com.

General Notes

1. According to the provisions of Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 21, which relates to nondiscrimination in federally assisted programs, all parties are hereby notified that the contract entered into pursuant to this announcement will be awarded without discrimination on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or disability.

2. The essential features required in a proposal for research are detailed in the current brochure entitled "Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals". Proposals must be prepared according to this document, and attention is directed specifically to Section IV for mandatory requirements. Proposals that do not conform with these requirements will be rejected.

3. The total funds available are made known in the project statement, and line items of the budget are examined to determine the reasonableness of the allocation of funds to the various tasks. If the proposed total cost exceeds the funds available, the proposal is rejected.

4. All proposals become the property of the Transportation Research Board. Final disposition will be made according to the policies thereof, including the right to reject all proposals.

5. Potential proposers should understand that follow-on activities for this project may be carried out through either a contract amendment modifying the scope of work with additional time and funds, or through a new contract (via sole source, full, or restrictive competition).

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