UAIA 2024 Update

The 2024 Universal Access in Aviation will take place at Embassy Suites, Downtown Pioneer Square, Seattle, WA, on Sept. 24-26, co-hosted by the Port of Seattle and Alaska Airlines. The ODO Airline Symposium is set for Tues., Sept. 24, from 10am to 3pm, at Alaska Airlines’ newest corporate office, “The Hub.” For the first time ever, we will also host an Airport ADA Workshop on Tues., Sept. 24, from 1pm to 4:30pm, at the conference hotel. Open to all UAIA delegates from airports, this pre-conference event will focus on the unique challenges and responsibilities of ADA Coordinators in the airport setting and foster the exchange of best practice solutions. That evening we will all come together to mingle and network at the UAIA Welcome Party, kicking off at 5:30 pm at  Embassy Suites.  Registration and Sponsorship Opportunities

SEA Access

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has now joined a very select group of airports in the U.S. and worldwide that have branded their accessibility program. The SEA Access name and logo, chosen in cooperation with the SEA Accessibility Advisory Committee, is designed to underscore the commitment of the Port of Seattle to making the airport the most accessible nationwide. At a meeting on November 14, the Commissioners approved an Accessibility Order that formally commits the Port to prioritizing “accessibility considerations in areas including SEA facility design, operations, and ongoing community engagement.” The Order also makes accessibility an integral part of the Port of Seattle’s Century Agenda goals. Speaking in support of the Order at the meeting were Laurel Van Horn from ODO and Kathy Kennedy from Alaska Airlines. In addition to a press release, SEA marked the occasion with a new video on their SEA Access initiatives. Congratulations to Heather Karch, Chelsea Rodriquez and their whole team!

Inclusive Airport Seating

Modern airports increasingly offer a variety of seating options, but why not make them as inclusive as possible? This is a topic that ODO has been exploring with Arconas for some time, so we were happy to contribute to their new Case Study. The article shows how specific seating types and groupings can create areas throughout the airport that accommodate diverse needs. While there may not be space or budget for a separate quiet or sensory room, products such as high back wing chairs and pods can create semi-private areas with acoustic and visual separation. Other types of furnishings, as shown above, can create dynamic, interactive areas for families. As Eric Lipp notes in the Case Study, “Spaces that consider the needs of all passengers create an environment and culture of inclusion.”

Safe Cargo Solution

To reduce damage to mobility devices that occurs within the cargo hold, AMAI/JANA Corp. has created Accessible Disabilities (AD) Trays sized for regional and mainline airplanes. After fastening the mobility device to the AD Tray, it is then strapped to the floor of the cargo hold, a container or a pallet, ensuring protection for the plane as well. AMAI/JANA has also designed a cover that fastens over the wheelchair or scooter to further protect it and prevent loss of any removable parts. We were excited to see these new products at the recent IATA WPS Expo. Alaska/Horizon and SkyWest have approximately two hundred of the Regional AD Trays in service, with Delta set to embark on a pilot project with the Mainline AD Trays. Shown above, a Mainline AD Tray being strapped down in a 737. For additional information, email Mike Green.

SEA Accessibility Evaluation

To help fulfill their goal of becoming the “most accessible airport” in the US, the Port of Seattle in 2017 hired Open Doors Organization (ODO) to conduct an initial evaluation of accessibility at Sea-Tac International Airport (SEA). The project included a full airport assessment, six public meetings to gather feedback from Seattle’s disability community, and thirteen fact-finding sessions with Port and airport employees, vendors and stakeholders. The resulting report, which made detailed recommendations for short, medium and long-term improvements, then became the basis for the airport’s accessibility transition plan. By 2022, the Port estimated that 70 per cent of the changes had been made, including creation of a fully accessible, informative website. See Accessibility at SEA Airport for some of the programs and amenities now on offer. ODO continues to consult as needed and is an active member of the SEA Accessibility Advisory Committee.

MEM Terminal Modernization and Seismic Program (TMSP)

This multi-year contract with a budget topping $500 million, led by Alliiance and UrbanARCH Associates, represents an important first for Open Doors Organization. Right from the preliminary design process, ODO has a seat at the table to share its expertise on the ADA, Universal Design and Equitable Access. Kicking off in 2022, this program continues the modernization process that has already transformed the concourse at Memphis International Airport.

ODO Webinars 2020-21

With in-person events suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic, Open Doors Organization worked to keep disability access and equity top-of-mind for the aviation industry by offering free webinars. “Fostering Independence for Travelers with Disabilities through Innovative Design and Technologies,” led by Laurel Van Horn, drew on recent ACRP research and featured a panel of travelers with disabilities sharing their experiences pre- and post-COVID. “Best Practices for Stowage and Handling of Assistive Devices,” led by Eric Lipp and Craig Kennedy, covered federal regulations, safe handling and lifting of various types of assistive devices, identification of battery types, and assessing pre-existing damage. During 2020-21, ODO staff also presented at webinars hosted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Transportation Research Board (TRB), American Association of Aviation Executives (AAAE), NEC/AAAE (Northeast Chapter) and Ozion Airport Software as part of their PRM Leadership Conferences.