Eric Lipp, Executive Director/Founder, Open Doors Organization
Eric founded Open Doors Organization (ODO) after personally experiencing the restrictions that people with disabilities face in everyday life due to lack of awareness and knowledge by businesses. In the 15 years since, he has assisted countless companies, primarily in travel, tourism and transportation, to better serve the disability community while also encouraging individuals with disabilities to travel and participate fully in their communities.Eric has developed and conducted training for airlines, airline service companies and airports. He has traveled around the globe, working with over 30 foreign carriers. Eric also assisted in preparing Heathrow ground handlers for the Olympics and Paralympics in 2012. In 2013 he trained TSA’s Passenger Support Specialists and received their Community Partner Award. Eric is a frequent speaker at aviation conferences hosted by WACRA, AAAE, ACI, ACINA and IATA, as well as technology events including ATIA and C-Sun.Eric has been featured in various prominent newspaper articles, travel, and entertainment trade publications, including International Herald Tribune, Reuters, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Miami Herald, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Travel Agent Magazine, Venture Magazine, Fox, NBC, CBS, ABC and CNN. He also writes a monthly blog for Huffington Post.
Craig Kennedy, Consultant & Course Trainer, Open Doors Organization
Craig Kennedy works as a consultant and course trainer with Open Doors Organization, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Chicago, Illinois. With more than 20 years of experience, Craig has become highly knowledgeable on travel and tourism as related to travelers with disabilities.
Craig began focusing on accessibility after personally experiencing the limitations that individuals with disabilities face in everyday life. In 1994, Craig moved from the Adirondack in upstate New York to Steamboat Springs, Colorado where a skiing accident left him paralyzed from the waist down just two years later. Now, he is a published author and Co-Founder of an adaptive travel resource company called Access Anything, with his wife Andy, and founder of CK Consulting. Craig has spent the last 20 years motivating people with disabilities to look beyond their perceived abilities and to advocate for their rights as both people and travelers. He has spent the last 7 years as a founding Board Member and Program Director for Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports, helping to grow the adaptive sports program from the ground up while teaching others with disabilities how to recreate in the outdoors. Craig also works as a Whole Food Nutrition and Business Coach with the Juice Plus company, where he continues to bring positivity towards change, better health, and improved access to the world of disabilities.
Integrating World Aviation Regulations Pertaining to Travelers with Disabilities
With over 10 million individuals with disabilities flying each year, numerous destinations are traveled to all over the United States and across the globe. During this travel, the most frequent interactions are between the flight crew and the passenger with a disability. Gate agents and customer service representatives alike also have direct contact with these passengers, although typically limited due to time constraints due to given the high volume of traveler issues they are constantly encountering. For this reason, it is evident that flight crew need to have a more detailed training on US DOT Part 382, EU 1107 and various civil aviation laws governing access in aviation, specifically due to these laws coming to fruition in numerous countries across the world. In line with this, IATA has begun to form a new working group aimed at making sense of the patchwork of new and current legislation regarding passengers with disabilities. Flight crews should be in tune with new regulations and how those regulations interplay on flights that cross over country boarders which can be accomplished through enhanced inflight training. Eric Lipp and Craig Kennedy will speak to these regulations and how to start the integration process into training.