Another great month at ODO! We won a major aviation research grant, welcomed a fantastic new colleague and are preparing to launch our first ODO/AIR Autism Airport Program.

Feb. 2014 News

This year Open Doors Organization will draw closer to achieving our long term goals. When I started ODO in 2000, I wanted people to be able to travel independently. I wanted to see a friend who is quadriplegic feel comfortable taking the train to Chicago to hang out. I wanted my co-worker who uses a power wheelchair to be able to travel to Puerto Rico, alone, to visit family, and I wanted to have one of my favorite colleagues who is blind fly to Chicago for the day to do some work. For people with disabilities such as quadriplegia or blindness, traveling by airline alone is daunting to say the least.
      But now I have some good news. ODO is a large part of a winning bid for an Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) grant to research and write a guidebook on Enhancing Airport Wayfinding for the Elderly and Persons with Disabilities. Our fellow team members include Gresham Smith and Partners; IBM’s Human Ability and Accessibility Center; Southwest Airlines; Arora Engineers, Inc.; Center for Accessible Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA), Georgia Tech; and Center for Urban Transportation Research, University of South Florida. What an amazing group and what a great opportunity to enhance independence!

Eric Lipp, Executive Director
Open Doors Organization


ODO/AIR Autism Airport Program

On March 13, ODO will kick off its new partnership with Autism Inclusion Resources Inc. at Newark Liberty International Airport. AIR, the Philadelphia non-profit headed by Dr. Wendy Ross, is dedicated to helping families affected by autism participate fully in their communities and travel like everyone else. The AIR Airport Program is unique in that it pairs a clinician with each family to help them develop specific coping strategies for their child. Except for actually taking off, the families have the full airport experience: checking in with luggage, clearing security, traveling to the gate, boarding the plane and having a snack on board. Kudos to United Airlines, a long-time supporter of AIR, for hosting this and three additional events this year at airports around the country.

ODO's New Aviation Consultant

Janette Freeman, formerly of Hawaiian Airlines, is now assisting Open Doors Organization to develop and market its various aviation-related programs. Her years of experience in the industry and wide-ranging contacts make her a perfect fit. Before retiring, Janette oversaw system-wide compliance with Part 382 for the carrier and, as the Corporate Complaints Resolution Official (CCRO), was responsible for training and supervision of CROs. Her insights on how to be a great CRO will be featured in the 2014 ODO CRO Refresh Webinar, due out shortly. Contact Janette.

Royal Caribbean Is Autism-Friendly

On February 20 Royal Caribbean International became the first line to be certified as "Autism Friendly" under the new Certification Standard & Training Program of Autism of the Seas. The entire RCI line now has Bronze Level certification, which means that it welcomes guests with autism and provides accommodations such as sensory-related toys, autism-friendly modification to youth activities (where appropriate), autism-friendly movies, priority boarding and dietary offerings (including gluten-free and dairy-free). Royal Caribbean has worked with Autism of the Seas for more than 7 years. Learn more.

FAA Event - Service Animal Relief Areas

On March 3, the Federal Aviation Administration will hold its first conference on Service Animal Relief Areas (SARAs) at its headquarters in Washington, DC. The FAA is currently developing standards for SARAs in airports. The event will also provide updates on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and on current and future research by the Airport Cooperative Research Program. For details, contact Lillian Miller.

New CA Guide

A Wheelchair Rider's Guide to the California Coast: This new guide, created by Access Northern California in partnership with the California Coastal Conservancy, provides detailed  information on accessible parks, trails, historical sites and other points of interest along the full length of the CA coast. The excellent Resources section has links to no less than 7 accessible travel guides for various cities and regions in the state.

2014 CRO Classes

ODO's Initial Complaints Resolution Training is 773.388.8839available on demand in the U.S. and overseas. The 1-1/2 day, in-depth course includes the latest rule makings, guidance and enforcements. Call 773.388.8839 773.388.8839773.388.8839 or email Risa Rifkind for details and registration.
Register Now!

5th Universal Access In Airports (UAIA)

Mon., October 6 – Wed., October 8, 2014
Chicago Marriott O’Hare

Best practices for air travelers with disabilities and seniors
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