Open Doors Organization (ODO), a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Chicago, was founded in 2000 for the purpose of creating a society in which persons with disabilities have the same consumer opportunities as non-disabled persons. ODO strives to teach businesses how to succeed in the disability market while at the same time empowering people with disabilities.
In America today, marketing toward people with disabilities is hindered by myths and misconceptions. Through comprehensive research, training, and guidance in marketing strategies and ADA compliance, ODO gives large corporations and small businesses the tools they need to reach and serve the disability market.
ODO is committed to assisting in job placement, educational seminars and diversity programs that improve the quality of life for the individual with a disability while opening doors to businesses and society. Through social action, research and media outreach, ODO is raising awareness and helping to bring about a more inclusive society.
Working primarily within the travel and tourism industries, Open Doors Organization partners nationally and internationally with associations, convention & tourism bureaus and corporations to help them better understand and serve their customers with disabilities. Services include focus group research, individualized marketing strategies, creation of training and marketing videos, guidance in ADA compliance, and the organization of workshops and symposia. ODO's nationwide studies on disability travel also give corporations the reliable statistics they need to make investment decisions and improve their services and facilities.
Committed to serving the community at large, ODO has long standing relationships with premier institutions such as the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and the Chicago Children's Museum. Through a generous grant from Chicago Community Trust, ODO has developed and conducted an Inclusive Arts and Culture Program for Chicago's theatres, museums and other cultural institutions that is designed to improve staff training, outreach and accessibility. Beyond Chicago, ODO consults with Southwind, an innovative, 80-acre fully inclusive park in Springfield, IL. Community partnerships continue to grow as needs arise.
Under a program funded by the State of Illinois, ODO researched and authored first Easy Access Chicago and then Easy Access Springfield. A similar guide for Rockford is also in production. These are available online as well as in abridged print versions. The detailed information in these guides, gathered onsite by ODO's expert staff, enables residents and visitors with disabilities, as well as mature travelers, to easily decide which hotels, restaurants, attractions and transportation suppliers meet their specific needs. Easy Access Springfield can be found online at www.easyaccessspringfield.org.
Since its first market study in 2002, Open Doors Organization has successfully reached out to the media to raise awareness of the issues facing consumers with disabilities. ODO is now a recognized resource for journalists and TV reporters and receives frequent coverage in major publications such as USA Today, NY Times, Chicago Tribune, LA Times and Wall Street Journal. Staff members are often called upon to contribute articles to major trade publications as well as magazines, newspapers and websites serving the disability community. Speaking at trade shows and conventions across the country and world has also given ODO the opportunity to reach large numbers of people and influence many organizations.