Royal Caribbean's New Access Board, United's Disability Awareness Day in Cancun, New Courses from ODO Academy and More!

Sept. 2015 News

It's hard to believe this summer has already ended. One highlight was the release of our new Market Study on Travelers with Disabilities. Laurel and I are really pleased with the work and not too surprised at the growth. What we really liked to see was that overall, especially in aviation, the number reporting obstacles seems to be shrinking! That does not mean that we don't still face long lines or distances that seem like marathons, but it appears there has been a positive change due in part to good design and improved customer service. The trending in the study looks solid. People are still traveling, most often for pleasure with multiple friends and family members, which proves once again that we are a large minority that needs to be heard. 

Eric Lipp, Executive Director
Open Doors Organization

RCI's New Advisory Board

Royal Caribbean International's new Advisory Board on Disabilities must be the most broadly representative ever! In addition to ODO's Eric Lipp, there are members from the American Sleep Apnea Association, United Spinal, Hearing Loss Association of America, Celiac Disease Foundation, Amputee Coalition, Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, Center for Independent Living of Broward, Lighthouse of Broward, Little People of America, Food Allergy Research & Education Inc. and American Association of Kidney Patients. At a second meeting in Miami this September, the Board learned about accessible shore excursions and discussed possible changes to training programs and creation of a formal ship tour program. Kudos to Ron Pettit, the visionary behind this new initiative. Learn more about Accessibility at RCI.

United Takes Disability Awareness to Cancun

This September United Airlines hosted a first-ever Disability Awareness Day at CUN (Cancun, Mexico). The event focused on one simple approach to customers with disabilities--don't be afraid to ask if you perceive that a customer with a disability needs help. The speakers on the panel emphasized communication and shared personal stories of living with a disability with more than 100 attendees. Among the panelists was Pat Pound, an ODO consultant and member of United's Accessible Travel Advisory Board.

ODO Academy Planning New Courses

Exciting plans are afoot at the new Open Doors Organization Academy. The first course on offer, Complaints Resolution Refresher Training for Airline CROs, is already selling well, and new courses are now being planned. Eddie Raguskas, Co-Director of the ODO Academy, visited Chicago this September to meet with Eric Lipp and Laurel Van Horn and map out future offerings. Coming later this year are a Disability Awareness and Sensitivity course, suitable for all frontline staff in travel, tourism and transportation, and an Introduction to Wheelchair Handling for Airline Ramp Personnel. Planned for 2016 are Driver Accessibility Training and a suite of courses for the Motorcoach Industry.

Low Vision & The Web

Although six times more people worldwide have low vision than are blind, web developers typically focus on the needs of those using screen readers.  Even Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are extremely limited in addressing the needs of people with low vision who rely on browser features to resize text or zoom the page, magnification software, etc. An illuminating article on Creative Bloq gives simple tips for improving usability via word wrapping and proximity.  Please pass on this reference to your colleagues now tasked with improving the accessibility of your websites. 

Accessible Japan

A recent article in Disability Horizons reported on Japan's push to make its transportation and tourist attractions more accessible. Not surprising since 25% of the population is age 65 and older, compared to 14% in the US and 18.5%  in Europe.  Another incentive: Tokyo will host the Olympics and Paralympics in 2020. Learn more.

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Initial CRO Training

ODO offers Initial Complaints Resolution Official Training in major cities nationwide as well as overseas. Call 773.388.8839 or email Eric Lipp for details.
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