Eric Lipp, Founder and Executive Director of the Open Doors Organization (ODO), started the organization after personally experiencing the restrictions that people with disabilities face in everyday life. A day before his 30th birthday Eric was diagnosed with Von Hippel Lindau disease, which had resulted in a tumor growth on his spinal cord. Eric was told that due to the trauma of the surgery he might never regain his ability to walk. This diagnosis and subsequent spinal cord surgery have not stopped Eric from participating in life to the fullest. This experience was the catalyst in encouraging Eric to found the Open Doors Organization.
Eric’s single most outstanding contribution to improving the quality of life for people with disabilities is in understanding the need for access into the larger domain of society. His ability to insist on helping businesses achieve equal access beyond simple compliance opens doors for people with disabilities. To this end, he initiated the 2002 and 2005 ODO/Harris Interactive studies on travelers with disabilities, which the travel industry views as the definitive source for statistics on travel by Americans with disabilities.