Press Releases

ODO and Airports Council International to Offer New Workshops for US Airports on Passengers with Reduced Mobility

December 10, 2015
Contacts: Eric Lipp, Executive Director, Open Doors Organization, 773.388.8839, ericlipp@opendoorsnfp.org
Ryan White, Manager, Communications, ACI World, +1 514.373.1226
rwhite@aci.aero

CHICAGO: In order to enhance services and facilities for passengers with disabilities, Open Doors Organization (ODO) and Airports Council International (ACI) will offer a new series of workshops in the US for aviation managers and access coordinators. The first introductory-level workshop, Passengers with Reduced Mobility, is scheduled for 16–18 May 2016 in San Francisco. A second intermediate-level course, focusing on the roles and responsibilities of airport access coordinators, will launch in the third quarter of 2016. Additional workshops are to come in 2017.

These new training offerings represent a growing partnership between ACI and ODO, the aim of which is to help the aviation industry better accommodate travelers with disabilities or reduced mobility. At certain US hubs, airlines provide more than one million wheelchair assists per year. An eLearning course from ODO, Disability Sensitivity Training, has been offered at the ACI Online Learning Centre for several years. Moreover, speakers from ODO regularly share their specialized knowledge at ACI events worldwide.

“The goal is great customer service for everyone,” notes ODO’s Executive Director and Founder Eric Lipp. “However, we know that providing an accessible, trouble-free air travel experience is no simple matter. It requires not only knowledge and expertise, but also detailed planning and design, a lot of cooperation and an ongoing commitment. At ODO we bring a unique perspective and passion to our training and I’m pleased that ACI is recognizing the need for access and helping us to reach the aviation professionals who can really make a difference.”

The Passengers with Reduced Mobility workshop will provide an introduction to US disability rights legislation, architectural accessibility standards, adaptive information technology and how to appropriately accommodate a wide range of passengers with disabilities. The interactive course will conclude with a walking tour of the airport, and will focus on accessibility elements such as how travelers with disabilities function and navigate within this complex environment. Additional details on this course, as well as the intermediate-level course focusing on the roles and responsibilities of airport access coordinators, will be available shortly.

“ACI has partnered with ODO on a number of occasions in the past, always to great effect, and these workshops are no exception,” says Angela Gittens, Director General, ACI World. “Statistics from ODO’s most recent nationwide survey indicate that the number of passengers with reduced mobility moving through US airports is increasing. As an industry we want to ensure that air travel is a convenient and enjoyable experience for all travelers, and this initiative goes a long way toward reaching that goal.”

Open Doors Organization (ODO), a non-profit organization based in Chicago, IL, was founded in 2000 for the purpose of teaching businesses how to succeed in the disability market and make their goods and services accessible. ODO focuses primarily on travel and tourism and has developed numerous training programs for airports, airlines, airline service companies and ground handlers. ODO has hosted Universal Access in Airports biennially since 2006, a unique educational event which brings aviation stakeholders together to share best practices. To learn more about ODO’s aviation-related initiatives, visit the ODO website (opendoorsnfp.org).

Airports Council International (ACI), the trade association of the world’s airports, was founded in 1991 with the objective of fostering cooperation among its member airports and other partners in world aviation, including the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Air Transport Association and the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization. In representing the best interests of airports during key phases of policy development, ACI makes a significant contribution toward ensuring a global air transport system that is safe, secure, efficient and environmentally sustainable.

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BARRIERS TO ACCESS IN AVIATION SHOW STEEP DECLINE: New Findings from Open Doors Organization on Airports and Airlines

September 3, 2015
Contact: Eric Lipp, Executive Director, Open Doors Organization, 773.388.8839, ericlipp@opendoorsnfp.org

CHICAGO – The Open Doors Organization (ODO) is happy to report that as more American adults with disabilities than ever take to the skies, far fewer encounter major obstacles at airports and with airlines. Their current spending on air travel alone is nearly $9 billion annually. These findings are from ODO’s 2015 nationwide survey, conducted by Mandala Research, LLC as a follow-up to ODO’s groundbreaking studies of 2002 and 2005 on the spending trends and market scope of U.S. adult travelers with disabilities.

“The aviation industry’s investments not just in accessible facilities but also customer service and disability awareness training are clearly paying off,” commented ODO Director Eric Lipp. “It’s true that a majority of passengers with disabilities still encounter obstacles, but we’re moving the right direction.” From 2005 to 2015, reports of major obstacles at airports dropped 21% (from 82% to 65%), while reports of obstacles with airlines dropped 14% (from 84% to 72%).

According to the ODO 2015 Study, 31% of American adults traveled by air over the past two years. These 11 million air travelers took 23 million trips and spent a total of $9 billion just on their own flights. For the vast majority, these were leisure trips accompanied by one or more adult family members or friends, so the actual economic impact is actually double, $18 billion. Air fares averaged $400 while spending at the airport averaged $20, double the amount in 2002.

“Our research also revealed how important the Internet and mobile devices are to these travelers. We encourage airlines and airports to make both their websites and mobile apps accessible,” said Mr. Lipp. “The more detailed the access information you can give us to plan our trips, the better.” The percentage of travelers booking trips online has now jumped to 62%, up from 51% in 2005, while 57% use mobile devices to support their needs.

Mr. Lipp shared additional findings from the ODO Study at the 2015 ACI Latin America-Caribbean/World Annual General Assembly, August 31-September 2 in Panama City, Panama. A “Disability Sensitivity Training” course from Open Doors Organization is available at the ACI Online Learning Centre.

Copies of the 2015 Market Study may be purchased from Open Doors Organization website by calling 773 388-8839 or e-mailing info@opendoorsnfp.org.

The Open Doors Organization is a non-profit organization founded for the purpose of teaching businesses how to succeed in the disability market and make their goods and services accessible to people with disabilities. To learn more about ODO’s numerous aviation initiatives, visit the ODO website (opendoorsnfp.org).

Mandala Research, LLC, who partnered with ODO on this study, offers a diverse range of travel market research products and services—along with expert analysis—to Fortune 500 companies, non-profit organizations, and government agencies.

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DISABILITY TRAVEL GENERATES $17.3 BILLION IN ANNUAL SPENDING: New Nationwide Research from Open Doors Organization as ADA Turns 25

July 31, 2015
Contact: Eric Lipp, Executive Director, Open Doors Organization, 773.388.8839, ericlipp@opendoorsnfp.org

CHICAGO – The Open Doors Organization (ODO) today released the findings of its 2015 Market Study. The nationwide survey, conducted by Mandala Research, LLC, is a follow-up to ODO’s groundbreaking studies of 2002 and 2005 on the spending trends and market scope of U.S. adult travelers with disabilities.

“This new data,” says ODO Director Eric Lipp, “shows that the disability travel market has a greater impact than ever on the industry and the broader economy. In the past two years alone, more than 26 million adults with disabilities traveled for pleasure and/or business, taking 73 million trips.” The study also shines a light on factors still holding back the market. Twenty-five years after the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, many barriers to access still remain in air travel, hotels and restaurants, although these have decreased significantly since the previous study in 2005.

The 2015 ODO study quantifies how much adults with disabilities spend on just their own travel—$17.3 billion annually, up from $13.6 billion in 2002. Since these individuals typically travel with one or more other adults, the economic impact is actually double, or $34.6 billion.

Like the 2005 ODO study, the new research shows businesses in the travel industry the extent and types of barriers the majority of travelers with disabilities still experience. Among adults with disabilities who have traveled by air, 72% said they encountered major obstacles with airlines and 65% with airports, down from 84% and 82% in 2005, respectively. At hotels and restaurants, the percent reporting obstacles—physical barriers, problems with customer service or communication barriers—has significantly decreased as well.

The 53-page report provides detailed findings not just on general travel patterns, frequency of travel and spending, but also gives specifics on cruise travel; ground transportation including ride share services; use of the Internet, mobile devices and assistive equipment; and the most popular destinations nationally and internationally.

Reflecting back on ODO’s earlier research and where the disability travel market is today, Eric Lipp notes, “When we carried out our first nationwide study in 2002, the goal was to wake up the travel industry to the importance of this mostly underserved market segment and give them hard numbers on which to base investment decisions. Now 13 years later, our economic impact is no longer a secret, especially in air travel. At large airports like Miami and Minneapolis St. Paul, airlines now must provide more than 1 million wheelchair assists per year. And as the Baby Boomers continue to age, you can be sure our market will keep growing for years to come.”

The survey was conducted online in January and February 2015 among a national sample of 1,291 adults with disabilities aged 18 or over. Disability was defined as having blindness, deafness or a condition that substantially limits one or more basic physical activities such as walking, climbing stairs, reaching, lifting, or carrying. Individuals who also have cognitive disabilities were included as respondents as well. To insure comparability with the 2002 and 2005 studies, Mandala Research used Harris Interactive (now Harris, A Nielsen Company), who had conducted the earlier research, to carry out the online poll.

Copies of the 2015 Market Study are available for sale through the Open Doors Organization website (opendoorsnfp.org) or by calling 773 388-8839 or e-mailing info@opendoorsnfp.org.

The Open Doors Organization is a non-profit organization founded for the purpose of teaching businesses how to succeed in the disability market and make their goods and services accessible to people with disabilities. Mandala Research, LLC, who partnered with ODO on this study, offers a diverse range of travel market research products and services—along with expert analysis—to Fortune 500 companies, non-profit organizations, and government agencies

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STAXI® Corporation to Partner with Open Doors Organization in Improving Accessibility in Air Travel and Beyond

August 1, 2013
Contacts: Eric Lipp, Executive Director, Open Doors Organization
Tel: 773.388.8839 Email: ericlipp@opendoorsnfp.org
David Gallant, Vice President, STAXI® Corporation Limited
Cell: 1-(954)-740-0935 Email: davidg@staxi.com

CHICAGO/ FORT LAUDERDALE:
STAXI® Corporation Limited and Open Doors Organization (ODO) are excited to announce that they have entered into a five-year, $50,000 partnership to support various programs to improve accessibility in air travel for people with disabilities and throughout the wider community. According to David Gallant, Vice President of STAXI® Corporation, “STAXI® are very excited with this new partnership and delighted to be given this unique opportunity to help raise awareness of accessibility and respect for people with disabilities and those who cannot walk distances. There is not a better organization than ODO in championing awareness for the disabled community, to help us achieve our common goal.”

Open Doors Organization, a 501(c)3 non-profit based organization in Chicago, is dedicated to opening doors for people with disabilities in travel and tourism. Best known for its groundbreaking research on the disability travel market, ODO has focused much of its efforts on improving accessibility in air travel and offers various disability-related training programs for airports, airlines and most recently airline service companies. ODO has hosted a biennial conference, Universal Access in Airports, since 2006.

STAXI® Corporation is the manufacturer of innovative, nesting transport chairs, used primarily in airports and hospitals. The staxi® Transport Chair has been on the market for over 13 years and has contributed significantly to improving accessibility not only in the hospital market but also within the airport community.

The launch of the new staxi® Boarding Chair compliments this philosophy perfectly. It is designed to make transfers on and off the airplane safer, easier and more comfortable for passengers and employees alike. For people who use wheelchairs full time, the most risky element in air travel is the transfer on and off the plane. The new, heavy-duty staxi® Boarding Chair is designed to reduce the risk of injury to both consumer and service provider. Innovative features include an automatic, fail-safe brake system and a front and back lifting system with foldaway front handles. “We like the new staxi® Boarding Chair,” says Eric Lipp, “and think it will improve the transfer process for people with disabilities. Our new Aviation Access Certification Program for airline service companies already includes handling tips for STAXI® Corporation products as well as standard wheelchairs and boarding chairs.”

While this partnership is a new one, ODO’s relationship with STAXI® Corporation goes back many years. “The company has always been responsive to the disability community and has continued to modify and improve its transport chair based on our input,” notes Eric Lipp, Executive Director of Open Doors Organization. “That shows respect for people with disabilities as consumers, which is what ODO is all about. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to now partner officially with STAXI® Corporation and to work together to further advance accessibility in air travel.”

For further information please visit:
Open Doors Organization: www.opendoorsnfp.org or call 1.773.388.8839
STAXI® Corporation Limited: www.staxi.com or call 1.954.740.0935

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Gateway Group One, First in Nation to Partner with ODO Aviation Access Certification Program

October 24, 2012
Contact: Eric Lipp, Open Doors Organization, 773.388.8839,
ericlipp@opendoorsnfp.org
Ana Sciara, Gateway Group One, 973.274.3423,
asciara@gatewaygroupone.com

CHICAGO: Open Doors Organization (ODO), the Chicago-based non-profit, is proud to announce that Gateway Group One, a leading airline passenger service company, is the first in the nation to collaborate in ODO’s new Aviation Access Certification Program. News of this unique training program for wheelchair service employees was first released on October 17 at ODO’s Fourth Biennial Universal Access in Airports conference in Seattle.

“Now there is a gold standard that includes training that was developed by people with disabilities for people with disabilities,” said Mr. Lipp. “Gateway has always excelled in its service delivery for passengers with disabilities, and we are excited that Gateway Group One has decided to lead the way for the airline passenger service industry by having its front line staff be the first-ever certified aviation access providers.”

“Gateway Group One has been a leader in providing a high touch service experience and with this partnership we are taking that commitment to the next level by getting our team certified through a trusted source like ODO and the disability community,” said Kurus Elavia, Gateway Group One CEO. “Our goal is to humanize the mobility experience and we believe that through this certification program our frontline staff will be energized and more aware of our mission to deliver that experience. Our passengers will also receive best-in-class service unique to their individual needs.”

Training by Open Doors Organization will begin in January 2013 for Gateway Group One, which will then roll out the program to the company’s wheelchair service employees across the country. Over 1500 employees are expected to enroll and become Certified Access Providers in 2013. Under a Recurrent Certification Program to be launched by ODO in 2014, Gateway’s Certified Access Trainers will receive refresher training each year and their Certified Access Providers every 2 years. This certification is not transferable and the certified staff member must have a clean service record.

Gateway Group One wheelchair service employees who participate in this program will attain certification as highly qualified and trained professionals and be entitled to wear a special patch with the ODO logo. This logo will become a nationally recognized symbol, which will speak with authority to the disabled community that team members have been highly trained and are qualified to meet the passengers’ needs. As certified professionals, they will help customers have a better experience through proper understanding of safe and courteous wheelchair assistance, thereby achieving higher customer satisfaction. They will also understand and be able to properly assist customers with sensory and cognitive disabilities as well as older travelers who may have multiple needs.

Open Doors Organization, a 501(c)3 non-profit based in Chicago, is dedicated to opening doors for people with disabilities in travel and tourism. Best known for its groundbreaking research on the disability travel market, ODO has developed and delivered successful training programs and videos for not only the transportation industry—airports, airlines, trains, motorcoach companies and cruise lines—but also hotels, restaurants and cultural institutions. Please visit the ODO websitefor full details or call 773.388.8839.

Gateway Group One is a leading provider of high touch service solutions. Hundreds of commercial, industrial, government clients outsource their service functions to Gateway for consistent high quality service that meets their specialized customer needs. Gateway’s comprehensive capabilities include expansive security services, aviation passenger service solutions, customer experience consulting, security and law enforcement technology, parking solutions, provided through stand-alone or integrated solutions. With more than 30 years of operational excellence and 4,200 strong employees deployed throughout the United States, Gateway leverages its breadth of services, deep industry expertise and technology-enabled workforce to preserve and build value for clients’ service needs. Gateway Group One was founded in 1979 and is a “Made in America” business that has been a strong partner in all the communities we serve. For more information please visit, www.gatewaygroupone.com.

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ODO Launches Aviation Access Certification Program

October 17, 2011
Contact: Eric Lipp, 773.388.8839, ericlipp@opendoorsnfp.org

SEATTLE: Open Doors Organization (ODO), the Chicago-based non-profit, today announced the launch of the first-ever Aviation Access Certification Program, designed to raise the quality of and standardize service by airline wheelchair service employees nationwide. Eric Lipp, executive director, introduced the new program at ODO’s fourth biennial Universal Access in Airports Conference, being held October 16-18 in Seattle, Washington.

Airport wheelchair service employees who take this program will attain certification as highly qualified and trained professionals and be entitled to wear a special patch with the ODO logo. As certified professionals, they will help customers have a better experience through proper understanding of safe and courteous wheelchair assistance, thereby achieving higher customer satisfaction. They will also understand and be able to properly meet the needs of customers with sensory and cognitive disabilities as well as those of older travelers who may have multiple needs.

“Our aim in creating this new training and certification program,” Mr. Lipp said, “is to help these employees do a better, safer job and to realize how valuable their services are, thereby enhancing the quality and experience for both customers and employees. Now there will be a gold standard that includes training that was developed by people with disabilities for people with disabilities.”

The overall objectives of the Aviation Access Certification Program are to:
• Train to provide high quality customer service
• Utilize the human element of customers with disabilities in training
• Emphasis safety as a key tenet
• Minimize out of service training time
• Minimize additional training hours and costs
• Reduce customer service complaints

There will be two Certification Programs.
• Initial Certification Program, ready for delivery in January 2013.
• Recurrent Certification Program, ready for delivery in 2014.

Each Certification Program will have two versions: Certified Access Provider and Certified Access Trainer. Open Doors Organization will also launch a Certified Transfer Specialist Program for employees who specialize in the safe assistance and lifting of customers between wheelchairs, boarding chairs and airplane seats by mid-2013.

These training programs will incorporate people with disabilities in course development, specially-created video clips and also as trainers in the Certified Access Trainer Program. They will enhance and largely replace the training that is currently provided by individual companies.

Open Doors Organization, a 501(c)3 non-profit based in Chicago, is dedicated to opening doors for people with disabilities in travel and tourism. Best known for its groundbreaking research on the disability travel market, ODO has developed and delivered successful training programs and videos for not only the transportation industry—airports, airlines, trains, motorcoach companies and cruise lines—but also hotels, restaurants and cultural institutions. Please visit the ODO website, opendoorsnfp.org, for full details or call 773.388.8839.

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Open Doors Organization Launches New, Improved Website

August 4, 2011
CHICAGO: Open Doors Organization (ODO), the Chicago-based non-profit, has redesigned and expanded its website, www.opendoorsnfp.org, adding separate sections and useful resources for businesses and consumers as well as media. Founded in 2000, ODO works primarily within travel and tourism, helping the industry to improve their facilities, products and services for customers with disabilities. The easy to navigate site is fully accessible for people with disabilities including those who use screen readers.

Open Doors Organization, which first received national and international attention for its pioneering research on the disability travel market, has continually expanded its products and services over the past decade. Eric Lipp, ODO founder and executive director, stated, “The new website will enable us to highlight and promote our many projects and services, from our award-winning Easy Access guides to our disability awareness training programs. At the same time it aims to serve the travel industry in general, not just our own clientele.”

For businesses, there are separate sections and resources for Aviation, Hospitality, Cruise Lines, Ground Transportation, Cultural Facilities and Recreation, as well as general resources on the Americans with Disabilities Act, Accessible Meetings, Universal Design and Web Accessibility. In addition there are research papers by ODO staff on the American disability travel market.

For journalists and reporters, the new Media section includes contact information, disability language guidelines and press releases. Also relevant is the News section which includes both news items from ODO and past coverage on the organization.

Consumers are better served by the revamped website, with travel tips on planning various types of accessible vacations, articles on barrier-free destinations and extensive links to online travel resources including Easy Access Chicago and Easy Access Springfield. “Educating travelers with disabilities about their rights as well as the opportunities increasingly open to them will always be an important part of our mission,” commented Mr. Lipp.

For more information about Open Doors Organization, call 773.388.8839.
Visit the new website at www.opendoorsnfp.org.

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ODO Disability Awareness Course Offered by Airports Council International

July 5, 2011

ODO’s first training module developed for Airports Council International (ACI) is now open for registration at the ACI Online Learning Center. Entitled “Passengers with Disabilities and Reduced Mobility Awareness Training,” the course will provide participants with an awareness of, and appropriate responses to, customers with physical, sensory, mental, and hidden disabilities, as well as those using service animals.

The eLearning course also covers various methods of communication with people with hearing loss, vision loss, speech disabilities and cognitive disabilities. The importance of the disability market is emphasized through general population statistics and the Open Doors Organization (ODO) Studies of Adult Travelers with Disabilities.

Disability and Reduced Mobility Awareness Training is mandated for airline and airport frontline staff not only in the US under the Air Carrier Access Act but also in Canada under the Canada Transportation Act and in Europe under EC 1107. This course will help airlines and airports meet these legal requirements for their employees while ensuring that air travelers with disabilities receive excellent, respectful customer service.

The self paced elearning module takes approximately 2 hours to complete and costs $95 per enrollment. For more information or to register, visit ACI Online Learning Center.

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Newly Revised Guide to Service Animal Relief Areas in Airports

June 20, 2011

A newly revised edition of Service Animal Relief Areas in Airports: A Guide from ODO is now available from Open Doors Organization. The free guide, first released at the 2010 Universal Access in Airports conference, has been reformatted and now includes photos and an expanded resource section.

Although Service Animal Relief Areas (SARAs) are mandated under the new Part 382 regulations for the Air Carrier Access Act, there are currently no federal design standards for these areas. To bridge the information gap, ODO in 2010 commissioned two experts, Pat Pound and Andrea Jehn Kennedy, to research and write a basic guide to assist airports in creating, maintaining and promoting the existence of SARAs.

The publication also answers questions about the needs and preferences of service animals and their handlers. Included as well are lists of online sources for Airport-Specific Resources, Service Animal Organizations and Schools, and Equipment Suppliers.

To download, click on the preferred format below:

Service Animal Relief Areas in Airports – A Guide from ODO pdf MSWord

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Live Webinar Series on Stowage for Ground Operations

May 31, 2011

Open Doors Organization will launch a new live webinar series on June 9, 2011. Entitled “Stowage for Ground Operations – Train the Trainers,” the on-line educational program is designed to help airlines reduce damage to assistive devices. The live webinars will be held quarterly with two additional dates already set: October 6 and December 8, 2011.

The Stowage webinars, which cost only $99, are hosted by Web Event Solutions. For additional details or to register, click here.

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Steppenwolf Wins Most Accessible Theatre Award

May 20, 2011

Open Doors Organization would like to congratulate Steppenwolf Theatre for winning the award for Most accessible Theatre at the Deaf Illinois Awards 2011. We’re also thrilled to note that Steppenwolf Theatre credits ODO’s Inclusive Arts and Culture Program, which it attended in 2009-2010, for its success. What a great example of a Chicago arts venue that truly values the disability community and continues to work to make the experiences of patrons with disabilities enjoyable. Keep up the great work Steppenwolf and Evan Hatsfield!

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ODO to Present to Multicultural Marketing Class at NYU

April 11, 2011

ODO Research Director Laurel Van Horn will be among the expert speakers at a course entitled “Ethnic Marketing: How to Target the Multicultural Consumer,” to be held on April 29-30, 2011 at New York University’s Midtown Center. This 2-day class for marketing professionals is held annually by Multicultural Marketing Resources, Inc.

Ms. Van Horn’s presentation will provide an “Overview of the Disability Market and Tips for Successful Marketing Strategies.” Included will be statistics from ODO’s 2002 and 2005 Market Studies. Additional guest speakers will cover America’s other main ethnic and niche markets: African-American, Asian, Hispanic and GLBT. The class will be led by MMR President Lisa Skriloff. For additional information, contact lisa@multicultural.com

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GeoAccess Report Features Data from Easy Access Chicago

March 2011

In 2010 Open Doors Organization was invited to take place in a White House “GeoAccess” Challenge, organized in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Commerce and Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Over a 90-day period, the team of government officials, technologists and disability advocates worked to answer the following challenge: how can transportation data and other geo-data be used to increase accessible travel by people with disabilities?

The GeoAccess Challenge Team’s research is now available online in a report entitled “Data-Enabled Travel: How Geo-Data Can Support Inclusive Transportation, Tourism, and Navigation through Communities.” Included is a proof-of-concept multi-modal trip planner for Chicago that relies on data from ODO’s Easy Access Chicago, goroo.com (the Regional Transportation Authority trip planner) and Google Maps. Chicago was selected as the test case due to the “richness of available accessible transportation and city point-of-interest data.”

The report provides an overview of the types of GPS-based applications for mobile technology already available to help people with disabilities access transportation information and find their way. It also discusses their current limitations and suggests next steps such as research on user needs, policy changes and standardization in the collection and reporting of data.

ODO’s Eric Lipp and Laurel Van Horn were honored to be included in this prestigious project which included technology experts from IBM, AOL, Yahoo!, AT&T, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Illinois at Chicago, Inclusive Technologies, Sendero, Neighborhood Health Plan and Keen Guides. The GeoAccess Team remains active and the challenge continues.

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Eric Lipp Keynotes at Atlanta Conference on Accessible Tourism

December 20, 2010

Eric Lipp, executive director of Open Doors Organization, delivered the keynote address at the 9th Annual Making A Difference Discovery Day, held in Atlanta, GA, on December 16, 2010. The event, hosted by the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDC), focused this year on “Making Accessible Travel and Tourism A Reality in Georgia.” In addition to sharing statistics from the ODO Market Studies, Mr. Lipp described ODO’s mission and how the small non-profit has over the past ten years worked to raise corporate awareness of people with disabilities as consumers.

He also discussed ODO’s Easy Access guides, a series designed to serve people of all ages and functional limitations. Other participants in the 9th Annual Discovery Day included the Georgia Alliance for Accessible Technologies, Georgia Department of Economic Development; Georgia Institute of Technology; Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport; IBM Research; InterContinental Hotels Group; Shepherd Center; USBLN-US Business Leadership Network; and Delta.

For a detailed description of the event, see Making Accessible Travel & Tourism a Reality in Georgia.

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Chicago Opens Its Doors With Easy Access Chicago Guide

January 17, 2008
Contact: Stephanie Aenchbacher, 312.240.2688
stephanie.aenchbacher@edelman.com

CHICAGO – The Open Doors Organization, in conjunction with the Illinois Department of
Commerce and Economic Opportunity (IDCEO), the Chicago Mayor’s Office for People
with Disabilities, the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau and Great Lakes ADA
announces Easy Access Chicago, a comprehensive visitor guide for disabled travelers.
The 50-page guide provides detailed information about Chicago’s accessible offerings
allowing disabled visitors to make informed decisions about their travel during their stay in the city.

“Chicago was recently named one of America’s most accessible cities by the National
Organization on Disability,” said Jack Lavin, director, Illinois Department of Commerce
and Economic Opportunity. “We are pleased to have had the opportunity to work with the Open Doors Organization and our partners to develop the Easy Access Chicago guide and further our commitment to providing an enjoyable travel experience for all of our visitors.”

The first-ever resource guide offers a wide variety of visitor offerings throughout Chicago
that are accessible and appeal to a range of budgets and tastes. The Easy Access
Chicago guide includes:

– Details of Chicago’s public transportation, inter-city ground transportation, and airports
– Descriptions of attractions such as parks, gardens, zoos, recreational areas, museums, theaters, architecture, tours and more
– Highlights of hotels, restaurants and nightlife options
– An overview of Chicago’s most accessible neighborhoods
– Area and transit maps

“Every location featured in Easy Access Chicago was visited by our trained site inspectors to ensure its accessibility,” said Eric Lipp, executive director, Open Doors Organization. “This guide truly opens the doors for travelers with disabilities to experience all that Chicago has to offer.”

Best used in conjunction with the Chicago Official Visitors Guide and Chicago Convention and Visitors Bureau Web site, www.choosechicago.com, the Easy Access Chicago guide is available by calling the Illinois Bureau of Tourism at 1-800-2CONNECT or by visiting www.enjoyillinois.com or www.easyaccesschicago.org.

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Disability Travel Survey Identifies Most Popular American Cities

March 30, 2006
Contact: Eric Lipp or Laurel Van Horn, 773.388.8839
ericlipp@opendoorsnfp.org or laurel@opendoorsnfp.org

CHICAGO: Where do adults with disabilities commonly travel for leisure or business within the continental US? Until the recent study of U.S. adults with disabilities, conducted in February 2005 by Harris Interactive® for the Open Doors Organization (ODO), there was really no answer to this key question. Now American cities and their tourism bureaus can gauge how popular they are among this growing market segment. Topping the list of cities most traveled to by adults with disabilities were New York City (47%), Washington, DC. (45%), and Chicago (44%), edging out Orlando, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles (all tied at 42%). Rounding out the top ten destinations, in order, were San Francisco, Atlanta, Dallas, and San Diego.

General findings from this study, released in conjunction with the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA), not only identified which cities these travelers have visited, but also explored their patterns of hotel, restaurant and transportation use. 40 major tourism destinations from every region of the continental US were included in the survey.

Based as it is in Chicago, Open Doors Organization was delighted with the city´s third-place finish. “We are making great strides in making Chicago one of the most accessible cities in the nation,” said Karen Tamley, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. “From popular tourist attractions such as the Lakefront Festivals and Millennium Park to our 100% accessible bus fleet, we believe Chicago offers a wide range of accessible options for residents and visitors with disabilities, making it one of the nation’s top destinations.”

But are American cities in general doing enough to ensure that this group of visitors also has a great travel experience? “Often only a few minor steps can make a city more attractive to first-time visitors with disabilities and encourage repeat visits. Adapted transportation continues to be an issue, getting to and from the airport or just visiting local attractions. Having a website that is both accessible in itself and has accessibility information is another key component to serving this market,” says ODO Executive Director, Eric Lipp.

The survey, the second of two studies undertaken by ODO, was carried out in response to the growing population of adults with disabilities. It was conducted online and by telephone in February 2005 among a national sample of 1,373 U.S. adults with disabilities aged 18 or over. The question concerning U.S. destinations was asked only of online respondents, a sample of 871. The sampling error for the total sample and online sample results is plus or minus 3 percentage points. For further description of methodology, see the ODO website (www.opendoorsnfp.org).

Harris Interactive Inc. (www.harrisinteractive.com), based in Rochester, New York, is the 13th largest and the fastest-growing market research firm in the world, most widely known for The Harris Poll® and for its pioneering leadership in the online market research industry.

Also contributing to the design of the ODO study was the Travel Industry Association of America, a leader in market research on the U.S. travel industry. The Open Doors Organization is a non-profit organization founded in 2000 for the purpose of teaching businesses how to succeed in the disability market and make their goods and services accessible to people with disabilities. Copies of the market study are available for sale through ODO (773-388-8839, info@opendoorsnfp.org).

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Disability Travel On The Rise Despite Barriers To Access

August 1, 2005
Contact: Eric Lipp, 773.388.8839
ericlipp@opendoorsnfp.org

CHICAGO: The Open Doors Organization (ODO) in cooperation with the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) today released the findings of its 2005 research study. The poll, conducted by Harris Interactive®, is a follow-up to ODO´s groundbreaking study of 2002 on the spending trends and market scope of U.S. adults with disabilities. “This new data,” says ODO Director Eric Lipp, “confirms what we already knew, that there is a strong disability travel market. In the past two years alone, more than 21 million adults with disabilities traveled for pleasure and/or business.” The 2005 study reveals which destinations, domestic and international, are most popular among travelers with disabilities and provides new data on Internet use. Surprisingly, the study showed marked increases in certain sectors despite ongoing barriers to access.

The 2002 ODO study quantified how much adults with disabilities were spending on travel-approximately $13.6 billion annually–and suggested that revenues from this market could easily double if certain needs were met and obstacles removed. The 2005 ODO study, which employed an identical methodology, shows businesses in the travel industry the extent and types of barriers the majority of travelers with disabilities still experience. Among those adults with disabilities who have traveled by air, 84% said they encountered obstacles when interfacing with airlines and 82% said they encountered obstacles at airports.

Despite such barriers, the average number of leisure trips and hotel stays was up 50% from 2002. However, 60% of travelers with disabilities who have stayed overnight in paid accommodations said they had problems at these properties, either physical barriers (48%), problems with customer service (45%) or communication barriers (15%). On the positive side, as Eric Lipp notes, “Many of the most common complaints identified by the study, such as heavy doors and lack of knowledge among staff, could be easy and inexpensive to resolve.”

In terms of restaurants, the study indicates 71% of adults with disabilities dine out at least once a week and also shows a 6% increase in casual dining from 2002. To attract this clientele, Fuddruckers restaurants are offering such things as Braille/large print menus, customer service training and larger pathways between tables. In the new poll, 40% of adults with disabilities complained of the lack of room between tables.

The 2005 ODO study covered a new area of travel car rental. It found that 20% of adults with disabilities rented a car for travel in the past two years. But a staggering 50% said they would be more inclined to rent a car if it were delivered to and picked up from them, while 36% would be willing to pay more for this service. In Eric Lipp´s view, “More rental car agencies should follow the example set by Avis, which now offers Avis Access®, a comprehensive program of individualized products to serve customers with disabilities.”

The survey was conducted both online and by telephone between February 8-25, 2005 among a national sample of 1,373 adults aged 18 or over. The sampling error for the total sample is plus or minus 3 percentage points. For further description of the study methodology, see the ODO website (www.opendoorsnfp.org). Harris Interactive Inc. (www.harrisinteractive.com), the 15th largest market research firm in the world, is known for The Harris Poll® and for pioneering Internet-based research. Also contributing to the design of the ODO 2005 study was the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA), a leader in market research on the U.S. travel industry.

Copies of the 2005 market study are available for sale to businesses, non-profits and individuals through the Open Doors Organization by calling 773 388-8839 or e-mailing info@opendoorsnfp.org. The Open Doors Organization is a non-profit organization founded for the purpose of teaching businesses how to succeed in the disability market and for making businesses´ goods and services accessible to people with disabilities.

The 2002 travelers with disabilities survey was conducted on behalf of Open Doors Organization by Harris Interactive with a methodology identical to the 2005 study (telephone and online). The sample consisted of 1,037 interviews (534 online and 503 by phone). The study was conducted between September 23, 2002 and October 8, 2002.

This is calculated based on data on the incidence of adults with disabilities (15% of U.S. adults) obtained through The Harris Poll (February 2005) and based off of the 209,128,094 people age 18 years and older in the U.S. population, according to the 2000 U.S. Census.

This is calculated by combining expenditures for air travel, hotel stays, restaurant dining, and entertainment reported by adults with disabilities for the previous two years.

Methodology for 2005 Study
Harris Interactive® conducted the online and telephone survey in the United States on behalf of Open Doors Organization between February 8 and February 28, 2005 among 1,373 adults (including 871 online respondents and 502 telephone respondents) ages 18 and over with disabilties. Disability was defined as having blindness, deafness, or a condition that substantially limits one or more basic physical activities such as walking, climbing stairs, reaching, lifting or carrying. Respondents were screened based on this criteria using a variation of the 2000 Census question. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, income and region were weighted where necessary to align with population proportions. Propensity score weighting was also used for the online sample, to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

Though the online sample is not a probability sample, in theory, with probability samples of this size, Harris Interactive estimates with 95 percent certainty that the results for the overall sample have a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points of what they would be if the entire population of U.S. adults with disabilities had been polled with complete accuracy. Sampling error for the sub-sample results of adults with disabilities who have traveled for businesss and/or leisure in the last two years (n= 1037) and adults with disabilities who have traveled by air (n= 497) is higher and varies.

About Harris Interactive®
Harris Interactive Inc. (www.harrisinteractive.com), the 15th largest market research firm in the world, is a Rochester, NY-based global research company that blends premier strategic consulting with innovative and efficient methods of investigation, analysis and application. Known for The Harris Poll® and for pioneering Internet-based research methods, Harris Interactive conducts proprietary and public research to help its clients achieve clear, material and enduring results. Harris Interactive combines its intellectual capital, databases and technology to advance market leadership through its U.S. offices and wholly owned subsidiaries, HI Europe in London (www.hieurope.com), Novatris in Paris (www.novatris.com), and through an independent global network of affiliate market research companies. EOE M/F/D/V.

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People With Disabilities Will Spend $35 Billion Dining Out in 2003

May 16, 2003
Contact: Eric Lipp, 773.388.8839
ericlipp@opendoorsnfp.org

CHICAGO, PR Newswire– There are currently 30 million people over the age of eighteen with disabilities living in the United States. In 2003, they will spend nearly $35 billion dining away from home, according to new statistics released by Harris Interactive in conjunction with Open Doors Organization. More than 75% of people with disabilities dine out at least once per week. The National Restaurant Association projects 2003 sales in fast food restaurants to be about $120 billion and 2003 sales in full service restaurants to be more than $150 billion. Surprisingly, what is most convenient for most Americans – fast food – is where the disability community has the least impact on the bottom line, just ten percent of sales. According to a 2000 Harris/NOD study, people with disabilities are much more likely to live in lower income brackets or be unemployed. Ironically, people with disabilities make up fifteen percent of the sales in full service restaurants where they spend two to three times more per meal.

The Open Doors Organization in cooperation with the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) and the Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality (SATH) released a landmark study on the spending trends and market scope of U.S. resident diners and travelers with disabilities. Open Doors Organization (ODO) will be presenting the results from the study pertaining to restaurants at the National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel/Motel Show in Chicago at McCormick Place May 17th – 20th (visit ODO at booth 7464).

Harris Interactive interviewed 1037 adults with disabilities to create the 2002 Open Doors Organization Market Study. The study, released earlier this year at the 7th annual SATH World Congress, is already helping hotels, cruise lines and airlines evaluate how effectively they market to the disability community. ODO works with businesses to educate them on the benefits of marketing effectively to the disability community. Executive Director, Eric Lipp, says, “We want to educate companies about the size and spending power of the disability market. People with disabilities are the largest population among all diversity groups, and we spend the most.”

Statistics show that learning to market and cater responsibly to the needs of people with disabilities could pay off big down the road. Assuming that incidence rates by age remain the same, by the year 2030 the total disability population will increase by 30.9 million and the severely disabled population will increase by 21 million, when compared to 1997. “The goal of the study is to educate restaurant owners about the value in marketing to the disability community. By reaching out and inviting a viable part of the community into their establishments, restaurant and hotel/motel owners will see the rewards of a loyal clientele,” said Lipp.

The Open Doors Organization is a not-for-profit corporation founded for the purpose of teaching businesses how to succeed in the disability market and to provide direct support to people with disabilities. The organization creates comprehensive programs and services that offer training, consultation and market statistics to both the public and private sectors. For more information, go to www.opendoorsnfp.org, email info@opendoorsnfp.org.

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Travelers With Disabilities Could Spend $27 Billion Per Year, Says New Harris Interactive Poll

January 16, 2003
Contact: Eric Lipp, Open Doors Organization, 773.388.8839
Cathy Keefe, Travel Industry Association of America, 202.408.2183

The Open Doors Organization in cooperation with the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) and the Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality (SATH) released a landmark study on the spending trends and market scope of U.S. resident travelers with disabilities. The study, conducted by Harris Interactive, polled 1,037 people with disabilities. The major findings of this groundbreaking study were released on January 16, 2003 at the 7th Annual SATH World Congress in Miami.

The study suggested that people with disabilities could spend at least $27 billion per year, if certain needs were met. These include a “meet and greet” at airports and preferred seating as top issues for the airlines while lodging issues include the need for rooms close to amenities and staff members that go out of their way to accommodate guests with disabilities. People with disabilities spent $13.6 billion on 31.7 million trips in the past year. The modifications suggested by the survey could increase expenditures by people with disabilities by 100% per year.

In 2001, the airline industry saw $3.3 billion in spending by travelers with disabilities, resulting in 52,800 jobs created to provide services for people with disabilities. The lodging industry saw $4.2 billion in spending and 60,000 jobs. The study also suggested that people with disabilities could at least double their spending generating $6.4 billion for airlines and $8.4 billion for lodging if the needs of travelers with disabilities were addressed. Currently travelers with disabilities generate a total of 194,000 travel-related jobs, $4.22 billion in payroll and $2.52 billion in tax revenues in the U.S.

The study was conducted to measure general travel behaviors including how often people with disabilities travel, with whom they travel, how much they spend while on the road, the mode of transportation and accommodations used, and on which sources of information they rely to make decisions. The study provides information that travel industry and related businesses will find invaluable as they seek to stem large losses following the terrorist acts of 9/11/01. The upside potential for both the economy and the travel industry is highly significant. TIA participated in the study in a consulting capacity, advising in the questionnaire design and validating the study and its findings against TIA’s substantial market and economic research resources for the U.S. travel industry.

The Open Doors Organization is a not-for-profit corporation founded for the purpose of teaching businesses how to succeed in the disability market and to provide direct support to people with disabilities. The organization creates comprehensive programs and services that offer training and consultation and market statistics to both the public and private sectors. For more information, go to www.opendoorsnfp.org, email info@opendoorsnfp.org or call 312-640-5000 extension 222.

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Open Doors Commissions A New Harris Poll of U.S. Disability Population

June 2002
Contact: Eric Lipp or Theresa Pacione 773.388.8839
info@opendoorsnfp.org

Open Doors is a non-profit located in Chicago, Illinois. Its mission is to bridge the gap between business and disability communities.

Harris Interactive commissioned to study travel, hospitality and entertainment spending
of people with disabilities

The Open Doors Organization and its partners the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA), the Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality (SATH), and the
University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) have commissioned Harris Interactive to conduct a national study of the spending patterns of people with disabilities with respect to their travel, hotel, and dining preferences. The landmark study due to be released at the SATH Seventh World Congress in Miami in January 2003, will enable travel, entertainment and hospitality-related businesses to learn more about the opportunities and profits associated with providing people with disabilities a positive experience when they travel for business or pleasure.

Disability cuts across all age, education, and income levels making this the single largest minority group in America. According to the latest available census figures, in 1995 there were about 48.5 million people over the age of 15 with a disability in the U.S. With a net disposable income totaling more than $175 billion, Americans with disabilities spent $81.7 billion on travel alone in 1995.

“These statistics demonstrate that, if properly reached, people with disabilities can be an extremely profitable marketing target.” said Eric Lipp founder and director of the Open Doors Organization. “This study will teach the travel, entertainment and hospitality-related businesses more about the size, revenue opportunities and preferences of people with disabilities. Further, this information will enable businesses to determine how best to meet these needs in order to realize revenue growth among a large but relatively untapped market.”

The Open Doors Organization is a not-for-profit corporation founded for the purpose of teaching businesses how to succeed in the disability market and to provide direct support to people with disabilities. The organization provides comprehensive programs and services that offer training and consultation to both the public and private sector.

For more information about Open Doors, call 773.388.8839.
Visit our website at opendoorsnfp.org

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