Open Doors Organization

Sept. 2013 News

This month marks the beginning of the fundraising season for ODO. Yes, everyone, it’s time to get those checkbooks out and ponder your gift this year. I can assure you of one thing: there's never an idle moment at Open Doors Organization. We are still experiencing the fact that the demand for our services outweighs the supply. That is why it's so important that you do not hesitate about writing the check, just give it go. Big or small you can count on helping 7 people with disabilities for every $1 you donate to ODO. You just can't beat that! If you give a little more, we can hire a little more, and with additional human resources we will continue to change the way you and your family travel, whether it's by air, bus, train or now even taxi.

Eric Lipp, Executive Director, Open Doors Organization

TSA Award Goes to ODO!

Open Doors Organization is this year's recipient of the TSA Community Partner Award, given in recognition of our assistance in training TSA's 3,000 new Passenger Support Specialists. The award was presented to Eric Lipp at the 11th Annual TSA Coalition Conference held at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Sept. 19.

Best Practices in Airports

ODO was featured twice at the 4th Annual FAA National Civil Rights Training Conference for Airports, held in Arlington, VA, on Sept. 16-18. In addition to participating in the "Stakeholders: What's On Your Mind" panel, Laurel Van Horn and Risa Rifkind gave a breakout session on "Best Practices in Airports." The 1-1/2 hour presentation covered everything from accessible help kiosks to safe stowage of wheelchairs and training of airport personnel, drawing on examples from airports worldwide.

Service Animal Fraud

While pet lovers think it's cute to take Fifi everywhere, service animal fraud is becoming a nightmare for true handlers, other customers and businesses including airlines and bus companies. There is no federal statute making this a crime, but some states do have such ordinances. Since certification of service animals is not required in the US, enforcement would be difficult. So what can you do? Google "service animal certification" and learn to recognize the fraudulent IDs, vests and other items for sale online. These do not have to be accepted as proof since documentation is not required. Instead, ask questions. "What tasks or functions does your animal perform for you?" "What has it been trained to do for you?" "Would you describe how the animal performs this task for you?" The verbal response must be credible. The animal also has to be well behaved and under the control of the handler.

"Emotional support animals," often incorrectly called "therapy animals," do not fall under the federal definition of service animal since they are not trained to perform a task. They do not have to be accepted into places of public accommodation unless allowed by a more broad state or local statute. They also do not have to be transported except by air carriers who may require a letter from a licensed medical professional.

UAIA 2014 Set for Chicago

The 5th Universal Access In Airports (UAIA) conference will take place at the Chicago Marriott O'Hare on Oct. 6-8, 2014. This biennial event, hosted by Open Doors Organization, brings together airports, airlines, service companies, suppliers and the disability community for a unique exchange of ideas on how to best meet the needs of older air travelers and those with disabilities. Save the date!

Heads Up on Training Records

The DOT recently rejected 6 alleged violations of Part 382 which claimed that air carriers and their service companies had failed to train their employees as required under the Air Carrier Access Act. Five air carriers and 3 service companies were named in the actions and all were able to prove they were compliant thanks to their detailed training records. In another recent DOT compliance review, ODO was asked to provide confirmation of client training. Without good record keeping, air carriers and their contractors risk steep fines. Rest assured that if you train with ODO we have your back. 

New Federal Outdoor Recreation Guidelines

On Sept. 26 the US Access Board issued final guidelines for outdoor developed areas administered by federal agencies. This release was timed to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which mandated equal access for people with disabilities to federally funded programs and federal employment. It also established the Access Board itself. The new guidelines cover newly constructed or altered camping facilities, picnic facilities, viewing areas, trails and beach access routes. A Webinar on the Final Guidelines for Outdoor Developed Areas is scheduled for Oct. 17 from 2:30-4:00pm (ET).

Rail Vehicles Committee to Meet in Oct.

The Access Board's Rail Vehicles Access Advisory Committee will hold its first meeting Oct. 15 and 16 in Washington, D.C. It will recommend updates to guidelines covering transportation vehicles for intercity, rapid, light, commuter and high speed rail. Meetings are open to the public with designated public comment periods held each day. To learn more, visit the Board's website, email Paul Beatty or call him at 202.272.0012 (v) or 202.272.0072 (TTY).
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24 Sep Great conf in San Jose by ACI. Airports are now changing thought, access is on radar!!

19 Sep Eric is in DC. ODO honored to win TSA Community Partner Award!! Thanks TSA we are honored to work with you!!

16 Sep Laurel and Risa @ FAA meeting in DC!

9 Sep  May we all have friends and family like this…

3 Sep  Risa is featured in a news segment that aired on 8/31 about the accessibility of Chicago Children's Museum...

30 Aug  New Office, New Initiatives!

O'Hare Plane Pull Benefits IL Special Olympics

On Sept. 23,  O'Hare International was the site of a larger-than-life tug-of-war challenge as 20-person teams of law enforcement, safety personnel and the general public struggled to pull a 90-ton UPS Airbus A300 aircraft.  The fifth annual Law Enforcement Torch Run Plane Pull event raised over $120,000 for Special Olympics Illinois.

Orchestra Pit at MET Now Accessible

World-famous conductor James Levine, shown above, can once again wield his baton at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. To accommodate Mr. Levine, who has used an electric wheelchair since an accident in 2011, the MET installed ramps and lifts including a rising mechanical podium that stagehands call the "maestro lift." Bravo, MET!

Wheelchair Tiedown Training Tool

The Upper Marion Area School District in PA had a brilliant idea: create a mock up of a bus floor to teach drivers how to fasten and unfasten securement straps for wheelchairs and other assistive devices. Without the space constraints of a school bus or motorcoach, practicing and observing is much easier.  Thanks to Ken Presley at United Motorcoach Association for passing on this great training tip.
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:

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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