Open Doors Organization

May 2013 News

When I travel I am often asked, "What happened to you?” I do not mind the question but I mind the effect my answer may have. If I am in a tight elevator, does everyone there want to hear that I have a genetic disease? I can only imagine their thoughts. Occasionally when I answer that I have a genetic disease that caused a tumor on my spinal cord, I suddenly smell the stench of hand sanitizer and the murmurs of "Oh, I am so sorry." As if it is OK if I were in a car accident but because I am sick I deserve pity and demand sanitization. But the truth is when I am in that elevator or sitting in that chair at the airport, I see no disability and I feel no disease. I am just that guy waiting for boarding. I am independent and equal and I see myself the same way any able-bodied person does. It’s taken 13 years for me to realize that if you look at me that doesn't always mean you are afraid or have pity, you may just be nice.

Eric Lipp, Executive Director, Open Doors Organization


On May 9-10, Eric Lipp and Laurel Van Horn took the new Certified Access Provider (CAP) program to Los Angeles where they trained an additional 14 trainers for Gateway Group One. Included in the class were VP Sunny Williams, Regional Manager and Trainer Jim Kawashima and GMs and DMs from Houston, Las Vegas, LA, Kansas City, Oakland and Panama City. Also present on the second day of training was Larry Rolon, Coordinator for Disability Services at Los Angeles World Airports. The CAP training will be rolled out to front line staff shortly so in the next few months you will begin seeing the distinctive CAP patch or pin at airports around the US.

ODO In The News

The April edition of Airline Passenger Experience, the official magazine of APEX-Airline Passenger Experience Association, features quotes from Eric Lipp and Laurel Van Horn as well as our close colleague at Boeing, Vicki Curtis. The extensive article by Glenn Kaufmann entitled "Wheels of Change" reports on aviation accessibility initiatives in the US, UK and Europe as well as remaining challenges.

New ODO Tip Sheet on Bloodborne Pathogens

The issue of how to protect employees against exposure to body fluids has come to the fore thanks to a recent enforcement action by the State of Washington against Baggage Airline Guest Services, an Alaska Airlines contractor.  As a result, ODO has added a section on bloodborne pathogens to its Aviation Access Certification Program and created a Tip Sheet based on recommendations from the CDC and OSHA.  OSHA Standards require that companies whose employees have occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens establish an Exposure Control Plan.

Staff Changes at ODO

Risa Rifkind, shown above, recently moved from NYC to join Open Doors Organization as a Project Director. A 2012 graduate of Johns Hopkins University, Risa will be taking over many of the assignments previously managed by Brittany Stern, who left us this May. Rejoining ODO on a part-time basis as a Program Manager is Jacqueline Kelley, recently returned from Washington, DC. Onboard for the summer is Adam Cain, now enjoying his fourth internship at ODO.  Adam will be a second-year student at Michigan Technological University this fall. 

Updated Site

The Department of Justice has just launched a redesigned ADA website. The new design incorporates improved navigation and usability features making it easier to find information on ADA technical assistance, enforcement and regulations. Information about the ADA is also available on their ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (voice) or 800-514-0383 (TTY).

TSA Update

The Transportation Security Administration continues to welcome input from the disability community, with 22 people from 20 organizations joining their latest advisory board conference call. 2,800 officers have now received Passenger Support Specialist (PSS) training with about 1,000 more to go. There have already been 2,800 PSS interactions with air travelers with disabilities at 187 airports. 

Inclusive Travel & Tourism

Access for All in FL State Parks--Power beach and trail wheelchairs from Global Extreme Mobility will be available soon in Florida State Parks.

How to Access Paris--
If you're planning to visit the City of Lights this summer and need to find accessible hotels, restaurants and transportation, check out this article in the April issue of Disability Horizons.
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 20 May  Eric & Laurel quoted in Airline Passenger Experience magazine. ODO tips are in the "Some Advice" section,... 
17 May  DePaul's Merle Reskin Theatre has an audio described performance of THE CORAL KING Saturday @ 2; touch tour @... 
16 May  Thanks to our friends in NoCal & Seattle for arranging Cub's player Nate Schierholtz to come visit us! 
14 May  Laurel is teaching a CRO training class for XL Airways and Gateway Group One. Call today to book your initial training!
13 May  Check this great blog about traveling with a disability! 
11 May  Eric just spoke at world aviation medical director mtg n Chicago ODO excited med directors are listening
10 May  Sunny Williams, VP Gateway Group One, hosted dinner for the managers from LA, Houston, Oakland, Las Vegas, Kansas... 
9 May  I posted 9 photos on Facebook in the album "United Advisory Board Meeting" 
8 May  Eric & Laurel are in LA for the rest of the week, training Gateway Group One on our Wheelchair Certification Training!
7 May  Gus on 103rd floor ledge of Willis Tower w host Colleen Kelly for episode of Family Travel. Great footage to show... 
6 May  Eric and laurel at LAX this week! CRO class at LAX next week
6 May  We were so excited to have Candace Cable, 9 time paralympic athlete & Amtrak trainer, in Chicago last week to consult with us on our work!
2 May  Great United Airlines meeting this week! 360 station managers from all United stations. That is huge!
2 May  United had 350 cities to hear PWD speak i.e. Eric & Gus for Advisory Board mtg. Biggest event of its kind & we're happy to be a part of it!
1 May  Please fill out HDA's BRIEF survey on telecommuting for work to give us the opportunity to weigh in on its value...
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:

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