Eric Lipp & Craig Kennedy

Disability and the Onboard Experience – Safety for PRMs & Their Mobility Equipment

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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. 

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.  

Disability and the Onboard Experience – Safety for PRMs & Their Mobility Equipment

On June 2nd, 2019 the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) 75th Annual General Meeting (AGM) unanimously approved a resolution to improve the air travel experience for the estimated one billion people living with disabilities worldwide. The numbers of persons with disabilities travelling by air are set to increase significantly as populations expand and grow older. A recent IATA survey of 48 airlines reported that the requests for wheelchair assistance grew 30% between 2016 and 2017, putting strain onto the quality of the service provided. And while airlines and airports are working together to ensure that wheelchair assistance is available to those who need it, there are still many challenges for travelers with disabilities. The biggest challenge is for passengers with disabilities who travel with their own mobility aids and the damage that occurs when stowed.

At last year’s event we spoke about the fact that flight crews have the most direct contact with passengers with disabilities and their families and that has not changed. An Open Doors Organization 2015 study showed that people with disabilities spend US$7 billion on travel per year, and this number will continue to grow. If we are to jump onboard with IATA in improving air travel experiences for this group of travelers, then we need to continue to train flight crews on the importance of the onboard experience. This workshop will train flight crews on the importance of mobility equipment and the role that they can play in ensuring the safety of this equipment through a better understanding of US DOT Part 328, EU1107 and other civil aviation laws governing access in aviation.