Open Doors Organization

June 2013 News

I had so many comments from last month’s newsletter that I want to expand on my thoughts. When Risa, who is a little person, and I discussed some of the comments, we came to the realization that she and I have a different perspective, mostly because she was born with her disability and I had mine later in life. When I explained my feelings about being looked at as different, she expressed her confusion. Having never been viewed as able-bodied, she had to learn while growing up about others’ feelings, fears and emotions. I felt as though I had it easy. I couldn't sleep that night because I could only wonder how ALL these different people with disabilities feel in social/public situations. How do their families feel?  Do I feel bad for everyone with a disability because socially we are judged by our appearance? Do I actually feel fear going out in public? Does Risa? Didn't someone famous say that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself? Are you afraid to be you? Am I afraid to be me?

Eric Lipp, Executive Director, Open Doors Organization

We're Moving!

It's official!  We're saying goodbye to Lincoln Park and heading west near O'Hare Airport. Our new office features a large training room and separate space for the Open Taxis dispatch center. It's a short walk from Cumberland station on the CTA Blue Line, just two stops from O'Hare, and there's plenty of free parking. ODO's new address (effective July 8): 8623 W. Bryn Mawr Avenue, Suite 508, Chicago IL 60631.  Our phone and fax numbers remain the same.

Access in Israel

Risa Rifkind, our new program coordinator, just returned from a 10-day birthright trip to Israel, a free program open to young Jewish people worldwide. Sponsor Taglit-Birthright Israel accommodates all types of disabilities.
    The Amazing Israel No Limits program, which Risa selected, is geared to individuals in wheelchairs. At  Independence Hall, there was no elevator, but the group was still able to see the room where the declaration of the state of Israel was made in 1948. At the Western Wall in Jerusalem, everyone was able to go up to the Wall and leave their own notes. While only some parts of the old city are accessible, the group did get to visit Yad Veshem and the National Cemetery.
    The most stunning part of the trip for Risa was the tour of the Dead Sea which is so salty that no matter how hard one tries not to, one floats. This held true for everyone in the group--no matter the disability, everyone floated equally. The group also went to Tel Aviv and up north by Nahayria, visiting the borders between Israel, Syria and Lebanon.

Upcoming ADA Bus Training

Ontario, CA, July 30, 9am-5pm
Doubletree by Hilton Ontario Airport
222 N. Vineyard Ave, Ontario, CA 91764

San Jose, CA, August 1, 10am-6pm
Holiday Inn San Jose Airport
1350 North 1st Street, San Jose, CA 95012

Sponsored by California Bus Association.
For details, email
Suzie Petersen

Open Taxis, New Service from ODO

The Chicago City Council has voted unanimously to award ODO a contract to create and run a high tech centralized taxi dispatch system for wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs).  A press conference to announce the 21st Century Wheelchair Taxi Dispatch System was held on June 27 at the Shedd Aquarium.  The new system, called Open Taxis, features Snag™ technology which lets passengers use a mobile app to hail the closest WAVs based on GPS signals. Open Taxis will also offer the option of phone dispatch. The new service will launch later this summer. Read Press Release

Passenger Vessel Access Guidelines

The US Access Board has finally released for public comment proposed guidelines for passenger vessels. Developed under the ADA, the guidelines provide design criteria for large, newly constructed or altered vessels including cruise ships carrying over 150 passengers or at least 50 overnight guests; ferries designed to carry 100 or more; and tenders allowed to carry 60 or more. A public hearing on the passenger vessel guidelines is set for July 10 at the Access Board in Washington, DC. The deadline for comments is September 23, 2013. Read more.

ODO Now Assisting Travelers Aid

Travelers Aid International offers "A helping hand along the way" to travelers in airports, bus and train stations. Eric Lipp, ODO Executive Director, spoke this June at their annual conference in New Orleans, seeking to raise awareness concerning the specific needs of travelers with disabilities. To help them meet those needs, ODO will now be providing information on resources essential to our community. 

In-Flight Captioning

Captioning of in-flight entertainment is not yet mandatory, but deafREVIEW recently published a report on which airlines are already captioning some movies or DirecTV.
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Twitter Feed

 24 Jun   @CitiesforAll Thanks for giving out that info! We're looking to update soon and expand to Rockford. We'll keep you posted :)
24 Jun  @DesignforAllFd Thanks for the warm welcome! We're excited to see all the good work you do!!
24 Jun  One of the wonderful Children's Museums working hard to include all children in their space. 
20 Jun  Exciting news for ODO's new venture!! 
13 Jun  Eric in New Orleans speaking @ Travelers Aid Intl. What a gr8 organization!!!
12 Jun  An update on in-flight captioning by airline. 
4 Jun  Check out this article on traveling with a disability from @patpound1!

Inclusive Travel & Tourism

Access Greece--This design, consulting and  tour company invites visitors with disabilities to "Discover Greece through your senses."  They welcome people with sensory and physical disabilities, offering day tours, packages and tailor-made tours.

Accessible Romania--This new company, run by a woman with a disability, is now offering accessible tours in her homeland of Romania. Corina Stefan recently told her story in the online magazine Disability Horizons.

Open Britain--Launched by Tourism For All UK this March, Open Britain is a one-stop-shop  for accessible travel and holiday information.  It already lists over 8,000 tourism businesses.

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 Initial Training for  Complaint Resolution Officials is available on demand at major US airports and internationally. Call 773.388.8839 for details or visit us online:

Copyright © 2013 Open Doors Organization, All rights reserved.
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