collage of persons with disabilities enjoying Virginia activities

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"Too bad your site is not used as a model by other states. Yours is the best I have ever seen."

F. W.Horchler   

Rockledge, FL

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“I have discovered I always have choices
and sometimes it's only a choice of attitude.”


Judith M. Knowlton

 

Who We Are    Mission/Financial        Awards

 

In 1987 the Duke Family founded The Opening Door, Inc., an organization dedicated to access and independence through information. Our organization was born out of frustration of trying to live an ordinary life with a disability.

We learned quickly that accessibility is in the eye of the beholder. Even with the Americans with Disabilities Act, universal access is not a reality. The Duke Family knows the difficulties of disability travel from experience. We have dealt with access issues for over 50 years.

bill and cheryl duke

Dad Bill has a hearing  disability since  childhood. Mom Cheryl  is a person of short  stature and has a  mobility disability due  to degenerative  arthritis. She now uses  a motorized scooter.

Paul Duke on his computerOur 47-year old son, Paul, uses a motorized wheelchair, is respirator dependent, and has a feeding tube to eat because of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

caitlin duke

Our daughter, Caitlin,  is also a founding  partner of the  organization. She  began working with our  projects when she was  12 years old. She  jokingly says that her  disability is having to  put up with the rest of  us, but in reality, she  has progressive  hearing  loss that she inherited from her dad.

Our individual disabilities were minor compared to what we faced in parenting a child with a severely progressive disability. Paul was diagnosed at age 6. The physician cried himself when he told us the diagnosis and prognosis. Paul had one of the worst kinds of Muscular Dystrophy, and he would be lucky to live to be 18 years old. It was devastating for us. We made the choice that Paul had this disease, but this disease did not have Paul.

We were going to do as many of things we had planned to do as we could, and not let his disability limit his life experiences. Paul has this innate strength of spirit and resolve that had him show us so much about courage and determination. He is a remarkable man. Oh, by the way, he celebrated his 45th birthday in October.

When Paul went into a wheelchair at age 12, the Duke Family's world underwent a drastic change. We found out that accessibility is in the eye of the beholder and that we didn't have the luxury of spontaneity and flexibility in our everyday life. We became hesitant to go to unfamiliar places or ones that haven’t been recommended by our peers. It was a real chore to call each place we wanted to go and ask our list of accessibility questions. Our motto became “Know before we go.” We thought it would be wonderful to have an easy source of access information so we could just get up and go with a minimum of planning. This was the genesis for the Opening Door.

Accessible Virginia is the result of our wanting to help others with hearing, vision, mobility or cognitive disabilities, plus their families, friends. or caregivers, enjoy an afternoon activity, a night out, a weekend getaway, a walk in the park, or a serious shopping expedition. We know that information about accessibility has a direct effect on quality of life. This is an aspect that only those of us in the disability community understand and appreciate.

Remember, those of you without disabilities are TABs — Temporarily Able Bodied. If you live long enough, you will have a disability in your lifetime. So this site really provides access for all.

 

Mission

The Opening Door, Inc. is a nonprofit organization whose mission to ...

Financial Information

Download current IRS Form 990 (PDF format)

Download certification from the Virginia Department of Consumer Affairs (PDF format)

The Duke Family continues to expand our Virginia Web site. Link to future projects. We are developing self-guided itineraries, to help our users have flexibility for day outings to explore things that are close to home, or weekend trips and for “staycations.” We are exploring regional culinary tours for "foodies," outdoor recreation and adaptive sports, and the Accessible Civil War project detailing accessible activities, multi-media presentations, cell phone and podcast tours as well as smart phone apps. All of these have a disability focus.

If you like the comprehensiveness of Accessible Virginia and want to develop an access guide for your city or state, please contact us for information on licensing our copyrighted accessibility questionnaires and templates for developing access Web sites or state/local guides. The Opening Doors, Inc.'s format has been registered and copyrighted internationally.

 

Awards

The Opening Door, Inc. received an award from SATH (Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality) at their World Congress on Travelers with Disabilities in Miami. It is the first award ever presented by SATH for such a publication and was given because The Virginia Travel Guide for Persons with Disabilities (now Accessible Virginia) has been a pioneering effort in providing comprehensive accessibility information on travel and tourism for persons with disabilities.

SATH logo and link

 

SATH is an educational, non-profit, membership organization whose mission is to raise awareness of the needs of all travelers with disabilities, remove physical and attitudinal barriers to free access and expand travel opportunities in the United States and abroad.

www.SATH.org

 

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