Open Doors Organization

March 2012 News

2012 has already proven eventful for accessible travel with cruises growing and hotels changing. But I am often left to wonder if regulation serves the proper purpose. We want so badly to believe the sheer market numbers are so big and obvious that we forget which is better, capitalism or regulation? Somewhere capitalism forgot equality and regulation forgot innovation. Neither seems to be the answer because right now we are overrun with regulation and still underserved as consumers. That said, our new ADA Hotel Training will teach not just the regulatory changes and compliance but also how to provide excellent service and improve outreach to guests with disabilities and older travelers.  Read more below and enjoy this month's News and Update from ODO.

Eric Lipp, Executive Director, Open Doors Organization

Hotels: Are you in compliance with the new ADA regulations?

If not, we can help!  Open Doors Organization is launching a nationwide training program for hotels on the new ADA regulations and standards that came into effect on March 15th.  The 6-hour course will cover the updated laws, reservation policies, accessible room requirements and all recreational facilities.  There will be lots of time for Q&A so that your specific issues can be addressed.  Learn from the experts!

For details, contact Eric Lipp at 773-388-8839 or by email.

Flyer for first classes: Chicago, May 14 and 22. 

Look for sessions in Dallas, Denver, LA, Miami, Orlando and more to be announced soon!

Cruise Industry Focuses on Safety

In the wake of the Costa Concordia disaster, the issue of safety was front and center at the Cruise Shipping Miami Conference and Expo, held on March 12-16.  All cruise ships belonging to three key industry groups—Cruise Line Industry Association, European Cruise Council and Passenger Shipping Association—have now pledged to conduct emergency muster drills before leaving port.
ODO's Eric Lipp and Laurel Van Horn were on hand to raise awareness of safety issues affecting passengers with disabilities and to see the latest lifesaving equipment.  Among their exciting discoveries is the Mobility Assembly Suite, a mobile computer system which identifies and checks in passengers and specifically targets those with disabilities during the emergency assembly and evacuation process.

Reminder: UAIA 2012

Universal Access in Airports Conference - 10/16-18
Universal Access in Airports (UAIA) provides a unique opportunity for dialogue among the various stakeholders in the aviation industry. This two-day conference, held biennially by Open Doors Organization since 2006, offers an open exchange of ideas and best practice solutions on customer service and accessibility for air travelers with disabilities and the mature.

TO REGISTER, download the Flyer/Registration form and email to:

Stay tuned for the Agenda.

To learn more about the topics addressed at UAIA and the speakers and sponsors who participate:
Universal Access in Airports 2010 Agenda
pdf msdoc

Pool ADA Deadline Extended

On March 15th the Department of Justice gave in to intense lobbying from the hotel industry and granted a 60-day extension for compliance with new ADA standards for existing pools and spas. The DOJ also issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that gives the public 15 days to comment on whether it should grant a 6-month extension. The new compliance date is May 21 and the comment period ends April 4.

iPhone App for Airport Relief Areas

A directory of animal relief areas at airports nationwide is now available via a free app for iPhones, iPods and iPads.  Created by Working Like Dogs, a global resource for people using working dogs, the latest version of Where to Go is accessible for travelers with vision loss.  Free Download.

New Book Features ODO Research

Best Practice in Accessible Tourism provides a global perspective on both the theory and practice of tourism for people with disabilities and older travelers. Editors Dimitrios Buhalis, Simon Darcy and Ivor Ambrose reached out to colleagues worldwide to compile the book's 25 chapters. 

Topics range from government policies in Europe and Australia to inclusive air travel, dive holidays and alpine sports. The chapter by Laurel Van Horn summarizes ODO's pioneering 2002 and 2005 Market Studies on American travelers with disabilities.

Revised ADA Design Standards Take Effect

It was only yesterday to me, July 26,1990, that the ADA was signed. And as you can see from our hotel training, there are new regulations that apply to ADA design standards.  Although the new law went into effect March 15, 2011, the teeth of this took effect only this month. The accessibility requirements apply to many kinds of facilities, including sports stadiums, court rooms, swimming pools and play areas, and I'm pleased to see equal access moving forward.
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Accessing Chicago

Open Doors Org's Easy Access Chicago online and in-print guide is a thorough tourism tool for the city.  What you'll find on the site:
  • Information for Visitors and Residents with A Wide Range of Disabilities, as well as for Older Travelers
  • Detailed Access Reports for Over 100 Attractions
  • Access Information on Midway and O'Hare Airports
  • Listings of Accessible Tours of All Types
  • A Guide to Local Accessible Transportation, Public and Private
  • Chicago Insider Tips to Help You Make the Most of Your Stay
  • A Guide to Adapted Sports and Recreation
  • Tips and Resources for Families
  • A Database of Accessible Hotels and Restaurants Searchable by Specific Access Features, Location and Price
  • Listings of Key Disability-Related Services and Resources
  • General Tips for Hassle-Free Travel
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...


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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