Open Doors Organization

November 2012 News

We hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving!  This is one of the most important time periods for ODO every year, our fundraising season, and we need your help. Currently for every dollar we get in donation we are able to affect the lives of 7 travelers with disabilities! That's an amazing value for your donation, so this year we are asking everyone to donate $10. If everyone on our mailing list donated $10, we could touch the lives of millions of people with disabilities all over the globe. ODO is not just in the US: we reach countries from Australia to Russia and Canada, so be assured, your donation is helping the greater good everywhere. You can give by calling ODO, emailing or visiting our website.

Eric Lipp, Executive Director, Open Doors Organization

Chicago Taxi Training

ODO is taking on the Chicago taxicab industry next!  We are creating a curriculum to improve customer service for people with disabilities and show drivers that driving an accessible taxi is a great business opportunity.  We're still collecting experiences of Chicago taxicab users, so send them our way if you have one.

The Kostas Z Foundation, headed by Constantine "Gus" Zografopoulos, will become part of Open Doors Organization in 2013. Its mission will continue under ODO's banner and will be called the “Z Life" Program. The "Z" is from the Greek word meaning "to live – life." It will focus on all of the fun aspects of travel, hospitality, entertainment and recreation for people with disabilities, their families and friends. It will provide and create information, integration and participation locally and internationally. The "Z Life" Program will also support therapeutic recreation programs in the Chicago area.

ADA Bus Training

We’re ending 2012 with a bang!  Over 300 professionals, from drivers and sales staff to bus company owners, signed up for our last 5 trainings of the year, including 60 in Orlando on Nov. 30.  Special thanks to United Motorcoach Association for promoting these classes in Bus and Motorcoach News.

Dec. 2012 Trainings
Memphis, TN, Dec. 3
Nashville, TN, Dec. 4
Knoxville, TN, Dec.10
9am – 5pm
TN Motor Coach Assn.
Contact Debbie Neese

Atlanta, GA, Dec. 17,
10am – 6pm
Stone Mountain Park
Georgia Motor Coach Assn.
Contact Linda Morris

Accessible Bus Service - New Guidance from DOT

Now that large bus companies are 100% accessible, advance notice is no longer required.  But if any segment of a trip is operated by a small carrier, then anyone needing a lift-equipped coach must still alert the company 48 hours in advance or risk being stranded en route. On Nov. 30, the Dept. of Transportation issued New Guidance instructing large bus companies to warn passengers of this potential problem at the time of booking.

Aviation Access Certification Program

ODO is currently filming video clips in Chicago and NYC for its new training program for airline service company employees.  The clips, which provide feedback from people with disabilities and older travelers, are just one element in the innovative 6-hour training. Train-the-trainer classes for Gateway Group One are set to begin in late Jan. 2013.

ODO Studies in UNWTO Publication

ODO’s pioneering studies on the disability travel market, conducted by Harris Interactive in 2002 and 2005, will be featured in the Manual of Good Practices in Accessible Tourism, being prepared by Via Libre and ENAT for the World Tourism Organization. We hope our studies will be replicated in other countries and contribute to the spread of travel and tourism for all.

TSA Training at JFK and LGA

Responding to input from its Disability Coalition members including ODO, the Transportation Security Administration is now inviting people with disabilities to participate as presenters in trainings for its new cadre of Passenger Support Specialists.  Classes at NYC airports using trainers with disabilities took place Nov. 27-30.

UMA Expo to Feature ODO

United Motorcoach Association Expo 2013 in Orlando will feature an ADA demonstration on Jan. 23rd by ODO. Godfrey LeBron and Constantine "Gus" Zografopoulos will teach safe wheelchair handling and securement as well as good communication skills and appropriate language.

CFC Fundraising Events

ODO has been reaching out to federal workers at Combined Federal Campaign fairs in NYC, Chicago, the Bay Area and St. Louis. Response from attendees has been gratifying as many have family members and friends with disabilities and appreciate our tips on how to improve their travel experiences.
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25 Nov  People with disabilities clearly unwelcome at Kalahari Waterpark in WI Dells!! No fixed pool lift...
23 Nov  Eric in WI @ Kalahari resort
21 Nov  ODO will be closed for the rest of Thanksgiving weekend. We wish everyone a happy and safe holiday!!
19 Nov  Reminder: MOPD Town Hall Meeting on Accessible Taxicabs! Today from 6-8pm @ 2102 W. Ogden.
15 Nov  Thank you Virgin America for attending our wheelchair stowage training at O'Hare today! We're excited to work more closely with you!!
14 Nov  Hope to see you at the MOPD's Town Hall Meeting on Accessible Taxicabs! 11/19 @ 6pm - 2102 W. Ogden.
12 Nov  ODO website is currently down due to a hacker problem. We should be up and running again by the end of the day. We...
12 Nov  Check out this interesting article on using grants to get an accessible van.
9 Nov  Great trip to Berlin and London. I feel strong about need for flight attendant specific 382 training!
7 Nov  Eric will be in London Wed-Fri. Email him at if you want to meet with him!
5 Nov  Check out "Tips and Tricks from a Blind Business Traveler" from AccessWorld's November newsletter.
2 Nov  October News from ODO -

International Day of Persons with Disabilities - Dec. 3

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is just a few days away! The commemoration provides an opportunity to address the exclusion of persons with disabilities by focusing on promoting accessibility and removing all types of barriers in society. Make the Day count! Include! Organize! Celebrate! Take Action!

On thing we can all do: lobby our Senators to ratify the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, especially now that Rick Santorum is leading a campaign for its rejection.
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...

2013 CRO Trainings:

Los Angeles: Jan., Dates TBA shortly.  Call 773-388-8839 for details.

Stay tuned for 2013 training announcements in our next newsletter

Copyright © 2012 Open Doors Organization, All rights reserved.
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