Open Doors Organization

January 2012 News

At Open Doors Organization our New Year has started with a bang. We have many new projects and opportunities in the works that we look forward to sharing with you in the months ahead. We're also busy planning for our Fourth Biennial Universal Access in Airports Conference, being held in October 2012 in Seattle, WA, in conjunction with the 2012 ODO Airline Symposium. These events represent a unique opportunity for the aviation industry to exchange ideas on how to improve service for their many customers with disabilities. If we can help you, our readers, address the issues you face in 2012 with accessibility, staff training, customer service or marketing, do get in touch. Open Doors Organization is here to serve you and our community.
Wishing Everyone A Bright New Year!

Eric Lipp, Executive Director, Open Doors Organization

UK Reduces Requirements for Service Animals

On Jan. 1, 2012 the United Kingdom altered its Pet Entry Scheme to match the European Union's. Service animals arriving from the US now face only a 21-day wait following rabies vaccination (down from 6 months) and no longer need a rabies titer test. Ireland, Sweden and Malta have also harmonized their requirements.

New Mandate for Accessible Taxis

On Dec. 23, 2011, a Federal Court ruled that the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) discriminated against people with disabilities. This is the first ruling ever that a city's taxi system must be wheelchair accessible and will have impact nationwide. Until a comprehensive plan is approved, all new TLC medallions and livery permits must be for accessible vehicles. This will mean new orders for the Indiana-made, wheelchair accessible MV-1, already approved for use in the NYC taxi fleet. Open Doors Organization is proud to have participated in design of the MV-1 prototype, then known as the Standard Taxi.

Beware Threats Over Website Access

There are now many "pop-up" companies trying to capitalize on recent proposed rulemaking from the USDOJ and USDOT concerning the accessibility of websites. You or your company may receive an email from one of these companies saying they will sue you if you do not hire them. In point of fact, regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Air Carrier Access Act are not likely to be finalized for several years and when adopted will allow businesses time to comply before they come into effect. In the meantime, if you do update or create a new site, ask your web developer to follow WAI Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. That way you’ll reach all your potential customers and be ahead of the regulatory curve.


Laurel Van Horn, ODO’s Research Director, has been invited to speak at the 2012 ACI-NA CEO Forum. Her topic: “Improving Travel For People With Disabilities - The Right Thing To Do From A Business And Legal Perspective.” The event, which welcomes 100 airport executives from the US and Canada, is being held by Airports Council International-North America on Feb. 8-9 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

TSA Cares

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has launched TSA Cares, a toll-free helpline to provide information and assistance to passengers with disabilities and medical conditions before they fly. Staff will answer both general and disability-specific questions concerning screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint. Travelers are encouraged to call 72 hours ahead of travel so that TSA Cares has time to coordinate support at the airport checkpoint when necessary.

The toll-free service (1-855-787-2227) is available Mon. - Fri. 9am - 9pm EST. Travelers who are deaf or hard of hearing may reach TSA Cares via a relay service or email.  After hours, travelers should consult the TSA website.

Govt. Affairs - Dr. Grover Evans

I am very fortunate to serve on the Disability Coalition Board at TSA for Open Doors Organization. The new TSA Cares helpline should not have taken this long to become a reality. Thousands of individuals with some type of disability travel on planes every day and many going through the screening process have had their civil rights violated and been treated like second class citizens. Many of those who had a nightmare experience still remember the trauma and no longer travel or are hesitant to relive that day. I fly frequently; don't think I haven't been there!! But I assure you the problem will get better. TSA Cares is a step in the right direction.
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Last month on Twitter


Today marks the end of a great year of Amtrak trainings - We have so much respect for this great company and the 8000 employees we served!
Dec 30

FCC 's Apps for Communities Challenge to make local public information more accessible! Runner up: Access Together

A win for PWD, judge calls for accessibility in taxi cabs -

Planning a trip with your guide dog to the UK in 2012? Rule changes effective on 1/1/12!!
23 Dec

"TSA Cares" program launched for PWD:… Hotline: 855-787-2227
Dec 22

News worth repeating!! @DisneyCruise and @RoyalCaribbean Cruises now offer options ONLINE to check to see if accessible rooms are available!
Dec 21

Social Networking Cane for the Blind - cool!
Dec 10

ODO Dec2011 News - Hot off the press! -
Dec 09

Decoding Sight

Over 10 million Americans are blind or facing blindness due to diseases of the retina such as macular degeneration.  Neuroscientist Sheila Nirenberg is developing a non-surgical and vastly improved artificial retina strategy that deciphers neural cell codes, potentially reversing some types of blindness.  Watch a video on this important breakthrough.
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...


New York: 1/17-18
Chicago: 1/25-26
London: 2/08-09
Los Angeles: 3/14-15
Singapore: 4/10-11
London: 5/08-09
Chicago: 6/12-13
Los Angeles: 7/11-12
New York: 8/14-15
Los Angeles: 9/11-12
New York: 10/24-25
Chicago: 11/07-08
Los Angeles: 12/05-06

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