Open Doors Organization

Nov. 2013 News

As the end of 2013 draws near, I reflect back on the year’s incredible changes at ODO. Time really does fly when you're having fun. Truth be told, everyone at Open Doors Org/Open Taxis thinks they are having fun. That is actually what makes us so original, and in the end we are able to really make a change in people’s lives. So when we face adversity, we know it will pass—minute by minute or hour by hour we will overcome the situation and get back to fun. I look back to the beginning of the year when I sat at my desk in Lincoln Park in a quiet office. Now there are few quiet moments because we are open 24/7-365. There are no holidays here, but every day is a holiday: we celebrate while working. Our amazing group of employees and drivers has turned this quiet office into a loud, proud public servant. We wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!

Eric Lipp, Executive Director, Open Doors Organization

United's Diversity Day at ORD

Congratulations to United Airlines on its recent Diversity Awareness Day at O'Hare Airport! The expo for United employees, held Oct. 22, fostered awareness of different cultures including disability through music, dance, food and information booths. ODO's Eric Lipp and Risa Jaz Rifkin were on hand to spread the word about Chicago's many accessible tourism and transportation options including Open Taxis.

DOT Final Rule—Kiosks, Websites

On Nov. 12, the Dept. of Transportation issued long-awaited changes to the Air Carrier Access Act concerning automated kiosks at US airports and airline websites. This Final Rule is effective Dec. 12, 2013, but regulated entities mostly have 2 or 3 years to comply, depending on the specific provision. The DOT held a webinar on the new regulations on Nov. 14 and plans to hold a training in DC in early December.

Seat-Strapping Approved

Part 382 requires that carriers, on request, stow one folding manual wheelchair in the aircraft cabin. Under a new DOT Final Rule also issued on Nov. 12, airlines now have the choice on new aircraft of providing a designated closet or of strapping the wheelchair into a row of seats. However, carriers who choose to seat-strap must also accept a second wheelchair unless it would displace passengers, and compensation must be paid to anyone displaced due to acceptance of the first wheelchair. The Rule also mandates new signage for closets used for wheelchair stowage.

UAIA 2014 – Your Input Requested

Our Fifth Universal Access In Airports (UAIA) is set for Oct. 6-8, 2014, at the Chicago Marriott O'Hare, and we want to keep it as interesting and rewarding for repeat attendees as for newcomers. What topics and activities would you like to see included?  Please email your suggestions to Risa Rifkind or call her at 773.388.8839.
UAIA 2014 Invitation

US Airways Fined $1.2M

US Airways is the latest carrier to run afoul of the DOT, specifically for inadequate connecting assistance at PHL and CLT that led to "unreasonable delays" and passengers missing connecting flights. The Consent Order lists numerous changes already implemented by US Airways to correct the problem including a Disability Assistance Line (800.892.3624). $500,000 of the penalty may be applied toward expenditures on these customer service improvements. 

ESAs Again Make News

The photo above captioned "Luna flies free" headed a recent, controversial article in the NY Times. In it a psychotherapist reveals that she consults by phone or Skype with patients who require letters certifying their emotional support animals (ESAs), a service she advertises online for $99.  According to Anne Hammond, the DOT plans to release a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on ESAs in 2014. It will specifically address medical documentation including whether face to face consultation with a physician is required to receive an appropriate medical diagnosis.
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7 Nov ODO observes moment of silence for TSA Officer Hernandez
1 Nov ODO mourns loss of TSA agent.
31 Oct ODO Wins TSA Award!

Inclusive Tourism

Access, Disability and Tourism: This webinar, held Nov. 20 and hosted by the Responsible Travel & Tourism Forum, featured presentations by Dr. Edward Manning, Pres., Tourisk Inc., and Isabelle Ducharme, Chair, Board of Keroul. The recorded webinar and presentations, now archived online, provide tips and resources for travel agents and tour operators.
Open Doors Organization (ODO), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Chicago, Illinois, was founded in 2000 for the purpose of creating a society in which all persons with disabilities have the same consumer opportunities as everyone else. We aspire to teach businesses how to succeed in the disability market, while simultaneously empowering the disability community.  more...

2014 CRO Trainings:

ODO's Initial Complaints Resolution Official (CRO) training is available on demand in the US and overseas. The 1-1/2 day in-depth course covers the latest enforcements and rule changes.
Call 773.388.8839 or email Risa Rifkind for details and registration.

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