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Sep 25, 2003
Contact: Mira Berman / Jani Nayar
(212) 447-7284.

TIA’s Dr. Suzanne Cook, & Open Doors Organization’s Eric Lipp

SATH is proud to announce that Dr. Suzanne Cook, Senior VP, Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) and Eric Lipp, Executive Director; Open Doors Organization will be the recipients of The SATH Access to Freedom Award for 2003 --“The Steuben Crystal Star Stream”.

The award ceremony will take place at ASTA’s Closing General Session on Friday, October 24, 2003 from 9am to 10:15am during The 2003 ASTA World Travel Congress, in Miami, Florida. Presenting the Steuben glass sculpture “Crystal Star Stream” on behalf of SATH will be Ruth Vidockler, co-founder of SATH and widow of ASTA Hall-of-Famer Murray Vidockler, CTC. Acting as co-presenters of the Access to Freedom Award will be Richard Copland, CTC, President and CEO of ASTA; last year’s Recipient, Donna Flora, CTC, Vice President, Travel Industry Relations, American Express Travel; Stuart Vidockler, Chairman, SATH; and Steve Mydanick, Director, Corporate Affairs for SATH. SATH thanks Richard Copland for carrying forward ASTA’s commitment to serving the needs of travelers with disabilities.

In presenting the “Access to Freedom” award, SATH honors and salutes both the unstinting devotion and far-reaching vision of both our recipients: TIA –Travel Industry Association of America, and Open Doors Organization. According to Steve Mydanick, “ SATH was instrumental in bringing Eric Lipp together with Dr. Cook to make this urgently needed survey a reality”.

Open Doors Organization, with the sponsorship of TIA and SATH, commissioned Harris Interactive to conduct a groundbreaking research study among Americans with disabilities (aged 18 and older), to identify and quantify the needs and interests of people with disabilities with respect to the travel, entertainment and hospitality industry; that has led to the paving of new paths in accessibility. This study -- the Disability Market Research on Travel, Dining and Hospitality -- provides valuable information that will enable businesses to meet the needs of people with disabilities, so that they can access this vastly untapped market. According to Fortune Magazine, people with disabilities represent more than 1 trillion US Dollars in aggregate income. The study clearly shows that people with disabilities are a very viable group of consumers, if their needs are met.

Dr. Suzanne D. Cook is the Senior Vice President of Research & Technology for Travel Industry Association of America (TIA). She is responsible for overseeing the work of TIA’s research department as well as the association’s technological initiatives and its web site. She directs a multi-faceted program of marketing, economic and international research and report publications. TIA also conducts the TIA Travel Survey and Travelscope, two ongoing surveys providing national as well as state and city data on Americans’ travel behavior. Dr. Cook was instrumental in the development of both. It now is an additional feather in her cap that her support was crucial to the above mentioned study to ascertain the basic habits and travel patterns of adults with disabilities. Dr. Cook joined TIA in 1977. Prior to that, she held the position of Senior Project Director for the Arbitron Company, a major broadcasting research firm. She received a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Social Psychology from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Eric Lipp is the Executive Director of Open Doors Organization. The Open Doors mission was created when Eric’s friend, David Crasko, an executive board member of Open Doors, together with Eric Lipp, who at the time was in a wheelchair, found that most businesses complied with the minimum requirements of the law; but these accommodations do not necessarily match the spirit of the law, which is equal access. Equal access requires much more thoughtful planning and implementation than simple compliance does. Since then, Eric Lipp has worked tirelessly toward this goal, of equal access for all. He is a constant presence at Trade Shows and Seminars, whose talks help to create awareness. Eric serves on the Y.I.E.L.D. Youth Project Collaborators’ Board and was selected Outstanding Person with Disabilities of the Month by the World Congress on Disabilities. He has been a guest on the On-A-Roll national radio show and has also been featured in articles in the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, New York Daily News, Miami Herald, Chicago Sun Times and Philadelphia Inquirer, as well as many different travel and entertainment trade publications. He provides training to businesses through Open Doors training programs, with the goal of creating awareness and, more importantly, facilitating change.

The exquisite Steuben crystal sculpture “Star Stream” is a symbol “reflecting the bond between two entities”: SATH-Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality and American Express…both have been actively working with ASTA membership for well over a decade.