Airline, Airport and Transit Training Updates, New ODO Blog and More

April 2015 News

The focus of many disability organizations is just that: "disability." In part it's that the language is becoming outdated. What we try to focus on instead at ODO is "accessibility." No more "disability hotel room" but rather "the accessible hotel room" and "the accessible parking space." Targeting accessibility just makes sense because access includes everyone. More and more older adults are dealing with access issues to a greater degree than they ever thought they would.  We have been working for the past six months on an Accessible Transportation Technologies Research Initiative (ATTRI) grant that addresses access for not only persons with disabilities but also older adults, and I am amazed by their needs. However, I fear that too many older adults do not speak up, and therefore they focus on the disability rather than on creating access for the next generation.

Eric Lipp, Executive Director
Open Doors Organization

DOT Audits ODO CRO Training

Open Doors Organization welcomed Kathleen Blank Riether and Donna Pilar from the DOT’s Aviation Enforcement Office to our April 20-21 Initial Complaints Resolution Official (CRO) Training at JFK Airport. Among the Office’s many tasks is oversight of Air Carrier Access Act training programs conducted by or for both domestic and foreign airlines. The class, taught by Laurel Van Horn and Candace Cable, included managers from Aeroflot, Egyptair, Meridiana Fly, XL France and JCM, an airline service company. We’re happy to report that our training program earned top marks from the DOT experts who described it as “the most comprehensive” they have seen.

Hillsborough County Transit Training

On April 28 Eric Lipp conducted two classes in Tampa, FL, for Hillsborough County Transit on customer service for people with disabilities and older adults. In attendance at these 2-hour, train-the-trainer sessions were local private and public transportation providers including HARTPlus Paratransit, Wave Express, Sunshine Line and Supershuttle. One important topic for discussion was the new DOT rule issued March 13, 2015, requiring transportation providers to make reasonable modifications in their policies, practices and procedures to ensure that the needs of the individual travelers with disabilities are met.

ODO Disability Awareness Training at PHL

This March ODO partnered with Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) to help raise the level of disability awareness among airport and TSA staff. Between March 17 and 25, ODO trainers Eric Lipp, Laurel Van Horn, Christina Buckley and Lynn Walsh conducted seven 2-hour classes that focused on common courtesies, appropriate language and tips for assisting and communicating with individuals with physical, sensory and cognitive disabilities including autism and dementia. For most attendees, this was their first hands-on training in how to guide someone with vision loss. Few US airports provide awareness training so kudos to PHL for offering these classes on an annual basis.

ODO Blog in Huff Post

ODO Director Eric Lipp now has a regular column in The Huffington Post dedicated to accessibility issues in travel and tourism. His latest blog addresses the hotel industry, its successes, failures and direction. If you have suggestions for future topics, feel free to email them to Eric. We’re thrilled to have this important outlet to a wider, mainstream audience.

Passport App Not Accessible

Mobile Passport, an app created by Airports Council International-North America and US Customs and Border Protection, is already in use in Atlanta, Miami, Seattle and O’Hare airports. The app shortens waiting times by allowing eligible travelers to submit passport information and customs declaration forms electronically, receive an electronic receipt and use a dedicated lane at customs. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Mobile Passport is not accessible to people who are blind. ODO Consultant Pat Pound, who tested the app on an iPhone, found that buttons critical to functionality are not labeled. ODO is now working to have this oversight corrected.

2015 CRO Classes

ODO Initial Complaints Resolution Official Training are now scheduled in a number of cities nationwide. 2015 CRO Schedule. Call 773.388.8839 or email Eric Lipp to register. Space is limited!
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