ADA Motorcoach Training

In January 2012 Open Doors Organization (ODO), in cooperation with the United Motorcoach Association (UMA), launched a new training program for intercity and charter/tour bus operators. The program is designed to help companies meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements and also provide the best possible service to their clients with disabilities including older travelers. The lively, full-day training is conducted by two trainers, one a disability expert from ODO, the other a UMA board member and motorcoach operator. The morning session, which covers ADA basics, disability awareness and service on the coach, is for all personnel including drivers. The afternoon session, which addresses company policies and procedures, is for management and sales staff. The training is being marketed to state bus associations as well as to individual companies and groups of companies. A 2-hour refresh training is also available.

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RCCL Safety Training Videos

In Fall 2011 Open Doors Organization created two new safety training videos for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. The first focuses on safe assistance for guests with disabilities during the boarding and disembarking process. It teaches proper techniques for handling manual wheelchairs and how to guide guests who are blind, as well as tips for effective, respectful communication. The second video focuses on how to safely assist guests who are non-ambulatory or have limited mobility when elevators are not in service. Filming locations included Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and Southampton, England, aboard ships of both Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises.

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Amtrak Customer Service Training

In a nationwide program that ran throughout 2011, Open Doors Organization (ODO) provided customer service training to almost 8,000 frontline staff, from conductors and other train crew to ticket agents and red caps. The day-long classes, which covered basic sensitivity training as well as Amtrak policies and procedures in relation to passengers with disabilities, were conducted in 17 cities as part of Amtrak’s annual block training. The ODO training made use of a series of PowerPoint presentations, videos, class exercises and guided discussions.

This was ODO’s largest program to date and required not only curriculum development but also recruitment of a large number of knowledgeable trainers, a majority of whom have disabilities themselves. The recruiting initiative was made possible by the extensive network of close associates that ODO has built up over the past decade. Training cities included Seattle, Portland, Oakland and Los Angeles on the West Coast; New Orleans, Meridian, Miami and Jacksonville in the South; Chicago in the Midwest; and Richmond, Lorton, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, New York City, Albany, New Haven and Boston in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

The goal of the program, which commemorated the 20th anniversary of the ADA in 2010, was to enhance service for Amtrak’s many customers with functional limitations—physical, sensory and cognitive. This fast-growing customer segment includes many older individuals who increasingly rely on train travel as an alternative to driving.

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White House GeoAccess Challenge

In 2010-11, Open Doors Organization participated in a 90-day challenge hosted by the White House, Federal Communications Commission and Department of Commerce aimed at exploring ways in which technology can increase accessibility. The resulting report, entitled “Data-Enabled Travel: How Geo-Data Can Support Inclusive Transportation, Tourism, and Navigation through Communities,” utilized data from ODO’s Easy Access Chicago guide in its “Proof of Concept.” GeoAccess Team members included IBM, AOL, AT&T, Yahoo! Accessibility Group, Carnegie Mellon, Inclusive Technologies and Sendero Group, among others. GeoAccess Report pdf MSWord

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Airports Council International Workshops and eLearning

Open Doors Organization, in partnership with Airports Council International (ACI), is developing a new series of workshops designed to help airports better meet the needs of air travelers with disabilities. The courses are geared toward airport executives, managers, planners and access coordinators. The first workshop, Accommodating Passengers with Disabilities, will take place May 16-18, 2016 at San Francisco International Airport. A “Disability Awareness Training” eLearning course from ODO, recently updated with the latest findings from the 2015 ODO Market Study, is also available from the ACI Online Learning Center.

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Airline CRO Training

Complaints Resolution Officials (CROs) are the airlines’ experts on the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and customer service for persons with disabilities. They are required at all US airports as well as foreign airports whenever flights are scheduled to or from the US. In 2009 when Part 382 regulations became effective for foreign carriers serving the US market, Open Doors Organization developed a new training program for Complaints Resolution Officials. To date ODO has provided CRO classroom training for dozens of foreign carriers in the US and overseas, traveling to such countries as Mexico, Malaysia, Philippines, Venezuela, Morocco, Switzerland, Italy and Canada.

In 2012 Open Doors Organization is continuing its CRO Training Program with group classes scheduled in major cities including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. In addition group classes are being offered internationally for the first time in London and Singapore. For details on upcoming classes, see Classroom Training. ODO also conducts trainings for individual airlines on demand, with timing and location to meet their needs. These classroom trainings for new CROs take place over a 2-day period and include a basic sensitivity training module, required under the ACAA, as well as a thorough review of the law and Part 382 regulations.

ODO also offers a CRO Refresh Training in the form of a webinar, available through ODO Academy. This 60-minute program, which is updated by ODO each year, consists of an audio recording and PowerPoint presentation. It is designed to help airlines easily and inexpensively complete the annual recurrent training required of all Complaints Resolution Officials under Part 382. The webinar is available on demand and live Q&A sessions with ODO staff members can be prearranged.

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Airline Acting CRO Program

Beginning in 2010, Open Doors Organization began offering its services as an Acting CRO to smaller foreign air carriers. ODO has served as Acting CRO for Astraeus d/b/a Iceland Express, Interjet, a Mexican carrier with service to Miami and San Antonio, and WOW, also an Icelandic airline. To respond to queries or complaints from passengers with disabilities, ODO staff members are on call 24/7 via a toll-free international network that includes the United States, Canada and the foreign carriers’ home countries.

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Airline Wheelchair Handling Workshops

In an initiative designed to reduce damage to manual and power wheelchairs and scooters, Open Doors Organization in 2009 began conducting free workshops at airports around the US. These popular half-day programs, which provide hands-on training for ground handling staff, are available to air carriers on request. The trainers include people with physical disabilities so that ramp staff can hear first-hand why the careful handling of wheelchairs is so important to those who rely on them for mobility. These unique workshops are sponsored by Global Repair Group, a company which works with airlines to expedite the repair or replacement of mobility devices damaged in transit.

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Celebrity Cruises Accessibility Project

Although ADA design standards do not as yet apply to cruise ships serving the US market, in 2010 Celebrity Cruises began working with Open Doors Organization to fine tune the accessibility of its popular passenger vessels. Initial work included site visits to ships from three classes of vessels—Century, Millennium and Solstice—while they were in port in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale.

This is an ongoing project with ODO assisting as needed as Celebrity renovates older vessels and designs new ones once the ADA standards for passenger vessels are finalized. ODO Research Director Laurel Van Horn, who served at the US Access Board on the Passenger Vessel Access Advisory Committee that formulated the initial guidelines, is taking the lead on this project.

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Norwegian Cruise Line Staff Training Video

In Spring 2011 Open Doors Organization created its second staff training video for Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL). It is designed to help NCL’s frontline staff better understand the needs and preferences of passengers with a variety of disabilities. Featured in the video are Eric Lipp, ODO’s founder/director who uses a cane or electric scooter; Pat Pound, an ODO associate from Austin, Texas, who is blind and uses a guide dog; Constantine “Gus” Zografopoulos, an ODO advisory board member who uses a manual wheelchair; and Lynn Rousseau from the Hearing Loss Association of Florida.

ODO‘s first NCL training video, shot in 2008 at NCL’s Miami headquarters and onboard the Norwegian Dawn, highlighted the many barrier-free features of the ship and showed each step of the accessible cruise experience, from reservations through check-in, onboard dining and recreation to ports of call excursions. As in the subsequent video, individuals with different disabilities discussed how best to provide respectful and effective customer service.

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Inclusive Arts and Culture Program

In 2009-2010 under a grant from Chicago Community Trust, Open Doors Organization offered a series of free workshops aimed at increasing access to the arts in its home city of Chicago. Participating cultural organizations, primarily museums and theatres, learned how to make their facilities, services and outreach more accessible and welcoming to the disability community.

To highlight best practices, the workshops took place at institutions known for superior accessibility such as the Victory Gardens Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre and the Notebaert Nature Museum. Guest speakers included Jay Cardinali from Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and Betty Siegel from the Kennedy Center. As an additional benefit, participants could request a free accessibility audit and inclusion in ODO’s Easy Access Chicago guide.

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