New Resources, Project Updates & Meeting News

June 2015 News

I am sure most of you have read at least one article recently on the ride share company Uber. There still seems to be a lot of animosity when it comes to ride sharing, and accessibility continues to be brought up by these naysayers. I agree that access is an issue, but I do not agree that this should be settled in the courts: it should be settled by the consumer. I also think we need to give these ride share companies a year or two to figure out access and how to approach it because likely their first efforts will fail, as do most first efforts at access. Right now I have a lot of faith in the US DOT, so I would like to see them put together a working group on how to make these companies achieve access via spending their money rather than spending our own on attorneys.

Eric Lipp, Executive Director
Open Doors Organization

Wayfinding App at ABIA

For the past year ODO has been working with IBM to develop a wayfinding app as part of a grant from Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP). Laurel Van Horn, ODO's director of programs, traveled to Austin this June to observe testing of the prototype by researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology, led by Jon Sanford. Twenty volunteers with vision, hearing or mobility-related disabilities put the app through its paces at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA). Shown above: Pat Pound, ODO Consultant; John Sanchez, IBM; and Sarah Melgen and Elaine Liu, Georgia Tech. 

UberASSIST Training in LA

On June 24-27, Eric Lipp, ODO’s Executive Director, conducted accessibility training for over 200 Uber partners in Los Angeles. These classes for drivers who volunteer for the UberASSIST program teach disability awareness and skills such as how to guide someone who is blind and stow a wheelchair or scooter in the trunk. Training with Eric were Jill Layton and Stefan Freeman, local residents who will carry the program forward for ODO on the West Coast. Other cities nationwide are expected to sign on for ODO training once current litigation over access is settled.
 AAAE Addresses ADA in Emergency Preparedness

The American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) Emergency Preparedness Conference, held this June in Houston, included a session on Functional Needs Support Services and the ADA. Experts from BCFS Health and Human Services and Denver, LA and Houston (IAH) airports discussed the critical items that need to be incorporated in Airport Emergency Plans (AEPs). Few AEPs adequately meet the needs of  people with disabilities, a gap which has led to lawsuits in LA, Detroit and NYC. Not only do communication, evacuation, transportation and sheltering need to considered, but also training programs and exercises. For detailed resources, visit FEMA and ACRP websites.


ACRP Report on Animals in Airports

Released just last week, ACRP Synthesis 64 is titled Issues Related to Accommodating Animals Traveling Through Airports.
A major focus is on pets and service animals in the airport environment and on airport relief areas, with details on current industry practices including the provision of relief areas in the secure zone. It also raises the issue of Animal Emergency Contingency Planning.

CAA Study on Air Travelers

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) recently published a detailed study on the behaviors, needs and concerns of air travelers in the UK including consumers with disabilities. It compares not only frequency of travel, but also explores why those with disabilities fly less or not at all. It also reveals how many request assistance in the airport and their level of satisfaction with the service.  Inconsistency of service across airports appears to be a factor in why some hesitate to fly.

2015 CRO Classes

ODO offers Initial Complaints Resolution Official Training in major cities nationwide as well as overseas. Call 773.388.8839 or email Eric Lipp for details.
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