City officials have convened a new committee to address accessibility for passengers with disabilities at O’Hare Airport.
Their first order of business? A first-of-its-kind restroom that provides more accessibility than any other airport facility in the country, officials say.
The new “Changing Places Restroom” in Terminal 2 opened last month. The 110-square-foot bathroom is equipped with an adjustable changing table for adults; a passenger lift system; an accessible, roll-in and transfer shower; and an accessible toilet and sink.
It was designed with input from the Airport Advisory Committee, a new group composed of 10 government and advocacy groups brought together by the Chicago Department of Aviation and Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Office for People with Disabilities.
The “Changing Places” concept originated in the United Kingdom. Sabrina Kimball, founder and CEO of the advocacy group Universal Changing Places, said on Saturday that she hopes the idea spreads to other airports across the U.S.
“I’m excited to see what’s happening in Chicago,” said Kimball, whose son, Greyson, has a disability. “I hope it is something other airports will embrace as well, and that we can get past any liability issues to [focus on] what is needed for people.”
The facility also features a motorized passenger lift with detachable sling and ample space for movement, allowing passengers who can’t stand or walk to comfortably use the restroom, officials said.
The Airport Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet again next month, when it plans to create a framework for incorporating accessibility on airport facility projects as both of the city’s airports grow and modernize.
Officials say they’ll focus on removing physical and communication barriers, creating additional way-finding signage and increasing staff training.
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