New BA Nut Allergy Policy, ODO in Dubai, First CRO Class at LHR, Open Taxis Wins New Contract, ODO on NBC Today...and more!

Feb. 2016 News

In August 2013 Open Doors Organization created Open Taxis to act as the Centralized Dispatch for over 160 wheelchair-accessible taxis in Chicago. Over the past 2-1/2 years we have been able to lower wait times to under 20 minutes and have completely eliminated the problem of over 200 people per month being left without a ride. This February it was announced that Open Taxis has retained the Centralized Dispatch under a new contract with the City of Chicago. This marks the continuation of a successful ODO program that serves the disability community with members from the disability community. This also marks another start-up business that ODO has successfully launched. In 2008 we helped create Global Repair Group, now with over 20 employees. Before that in 2002 we helped start Chicago Disability Transit which still runs today. We’re proud to demonstrate once again that it is possible to serve the people by the people.

Eric Lipp, Executive Director
Open Doors Organization

Eric Lipp Speaks in Dubai
ODO's Executive Director Eric Lipp traveled to Dubai this February to speak at the Inflight Workshop, a 2-day conference and exposition on Inflight Entertainment & Connectivity (IFEC). Also on the panel that addressed accessibility for passengers with hearing and vision loss were representatives from Descriptive Video Works, Gulf Air, APEX-Airline Passenger Experience Association and Lumexis. This is an important issue as the US DOT will soon be creating new rules for inflight entertainment systems under Part 382. (Shown above: Dubai airport's new Concourse D, open this month).

Open Taxis Wins New Bid 
Open Doors Organization has again won the competitive bidding process to provide centralized wheelchair-accessible taxicab dispatch service to passengers across Chicago. The evaluation committee gave Open Taxis the highest score for its ability to connect passengers with wheelchair-accessible taxicabs with a smartphone app that includes key features such as estimated wait time and an estimated fare quote. The Open Taxis app is available from both the Apple App Store for IOS users and Google Play App Store for Android users. Riders can also call 855-WAV-1010 to request a wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV). Mayor Emanuel's taxi reforms will add 100 more WAVs by the end of 2016, with 400 in total mandated by January 1, 2018.

CRO Training at Heathrow 

Open Doors Organization has been conducting Initial Complaints Resolution Official (CRO) training for British Airways at airports nationwide since 2014. This February we held the first such class at BA's new training base at Heathrow (LHR). Among the trainees were BA staff from LHR and Newcastle as well as Open Skies managers from Orly in Paris. The session included a comparison of Part 382 with EC 1107, the European Community’s equivalent of the Air Carrier Access Act. Trainer Laurel Van Horn also met with BA managers at their Waterside headquarters and inspected Terminal 5’s Lichfield Suite, a comfortable, quiet lounge for customers with disabilities that features a Changing Places toilet. Another is located in Terminal 2 arrivals.

ODO on NBC Today

A recent NBC Today expose on emotional support animal fraud included brief comments from ODO’s Laurel Van Horn on how harmful this is becoming for people with disabilities who genuinely need service and comfort animals. The Rossen Reports team (shown above) was able to purchase medical letters online without even a phone consultation and then fly with a pet dog and a rented potbellied pig. Unfortunately, by showing how easy it is to get these medical documents online, the piece is more likely to encourage fraud than convince the public to stop impersonating people with psychological disabilities.

New BA Nut Allergy Policy

Congratulations to British Airways on implementing a new policy that allows customers with severe nut allergies to preboard to clean around their seat  and to request a general announcement. See the BA website for full details. Congrats also to Lianne Mandelbaum and No Nut Traveler whose work to make air travel safer for those with food allergies is gaining real traction.

New EASA Decision

On Jan. 22, 2016 the European Aviation Safety Administration issued ED Decision 2016/004/R amending acceptable means of compliance and guidance material with regard to carriage of Special Categories of Passengers (SCPs) including persons with disabilities. In addition to guidelines on determining the maximum number of SCPs per flight, the Decision addresses the content of safety briefings and safe allocation of seats based on type of disability.

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CRO Training

ODO offers Initial Complaints Resolution Official Training in major cities nationwide as well as overseas. Call 773.388.8839 or email Katy Rosseland to schedule a class. For CRO Refresh Training, visit ODO Academy or email Eddie Ragauskas.
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