Chicago Department of Aviation Highlights Accessibility Features At O’Hare and Midway International Airports Global Accessibility Awareness Day
CDA Media Relations CDAMEDIA@CITYOFCHICAGO.ORG
CHICAGO — In honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) today published two videos highlighting the accessibility features at O’Hare and Midway International Airports.
The videos, published on the Accessibility pages of O’Hare and Midway’s websites, showcase all the ways the CDA works to create a welcoming, inclusive and supportive travel experience for all passengers at Chicago’s airports. The videos themselves also incorporate digital accessibility features such as audio descriptions and closed captions. Direct links are listed below:
- Accessibility at O’Hare
- Accessibility at O’Hare with Audio Descriptions
- Accessibility at Midway
- Accessibility at Midway with Audio Descriptions
“I am proud to see the Department of Aviation putting the needs of people with disabilities front and center and prioritizing accessible transportation infrastructure for Chicagoans and travelers,” said Mayor Brandon Johnson. “Accessibility isn’t just about expanding access for some people because the truth is that prioritizing accessibility serves us all in the long term. I look forward to working with Commissioner Rhee to make O’Hare and Midway the most accessible airports in the country.”
“Improving access to our airports for people with disabilities of all kinds is one of the Chicago Department of Aviation’s top priorities,” CDA Commissioner Jamie L. Rhee said. “We are committed to creating a supportive and inclusive travel experience for everyone who passes through O’Hare and Midway, and we work closely with the FAA Office of Civil Rights and the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities to ensure we’re meeting the needs of all travelers.”
“I thank the CDA for their partnership in producing these videos, which highlight key accessibility offerings at our airports,” said Commissioner Rachel Arfa of the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities. “We look forward to the ongoing work in the weeks and months to come to expand accessibility offerings every day at both O’Hare and Midway.”
Last month, the department also launched the Committee to Evaluate Airport Accessibility in order to advance its goal of operating the most accessible airports in the nation. The Committee meets every two weeks to develop and administer an efficient evaluation system to identify and correct barriers to optimize accessibility by assessing services, activities, facilities, policies, practices and procedures at O’Hare and Midway.
The CDA has also implemented a new Accessibility Training video, designed to provide employees with best practices for assisting passengers with disabilities, as well as educate them about the accessibility features and programs at both airports. Developed in partnership with the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD), this training replaces an older video, and is currently rolled out to CDA employees, with planned implementation as annual viewing for all employees across both airports.
Some of the accessibility highlights at Chicago’s airports include:
Accessible Transportation Options
Midway has 164 accessible parking spaces across its parking facilities, while O’Hare has 207 accessible spaces. Accessible drop-off areas equipped with curb ramps are also provided throughout the arrival and departure vehicle loading areas at both airports.
The CTA Blue Line O’Hare station and Orange Line Midway station are each equipped with elevators to take passengers with mobility impairments to and from the train platforms.
Mobility and Boarding Assistance
Each airline offers wheelchair assistance to passengers with mobility impairments to help them with traveling to or transferring between gates. Airlines also provide boarding assistance and extra boarding time for passengers with disabilities. Passengers should contact their airline directly prior to travel to add wheelchair or boarding assistance to their reservations. Contact information for airlines at Midway and O'Hare is available on each airport’s website.
Interpretation services for passengers who are deaf or hard of hearing, or travelers who need translation services, are available at O’Hare at information desks throughout the terminals and through the Travelers Aid office in Terminal 2, located in Concourse F next to the Changing Places facility and across from the Family Lounge. Interpretation and translation services at Midway are available at the airport information desk in the baggage claim area.
Security Screening Accommodations
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) offers TSA Cares, a helpline that provides travelers with disabilities, medical conditions and other special circumstances additional assistance during the security screening process. You may call (855) 787-2227 72 hours prior to traveling with questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint.
At the airport, travelers requiring special accommodations or who are concerned about the security screening process at the airport may ask a TSA officer or supervisor for a passenger support specialist who can provide on-the-spot assistance.
Changing Places Facility
This first-of-its-kind facility provides a restroom, shower and other ADA features for passengers with disabilities in O’Hare’s Terminal 2 near Security Checkpoint 5. The facility has a motorized passenger lift system to provide access to an adult changing table, which can support a maximum load of 330 pounds. It also features two fully accessible showers – including roll-in and transfer seat styles – and two emergency pull cords that connect to the O’Hare Communications Center. Passengers can make reservations for the Changing Places Facility online.
Service Animal Relief Areas
Travelers with service animals can utilize service animal relief areas (SARAs) at both airports. SARAs at O’Hare are located outside security on the lower levels of Terminals 1, 2 and 5 as well as at the Multi-Modal Facility; and inside security in the Terminal 3 Rotunda and Main Hall. Midway’s SARAs are outside Lower Level Door 4 on the south end of the Lower Level Terminal Drive and in Concourse A near Door A4.
Visual paging for passengers at Midway is available 24 hours a day, with text messages displayed on all flight monitors. Contact 773-838-9660 for visual paging. Audio paging via announcements in terminals is also available directly through airlines at both airports.
Free Period Products
CDA crews are installing free period product dispensers in women’s and gender-neutral restrooms on the secure side of Terminals 1, 2 and 3 at O’Hare as the result of a partnership between the CDA and Aunt Flow, an Ohio-based, women-owned company dedicated to developing solutions that make pads and tampons as freely available as toilet paper.
The free Aunt Flow products replace fee-based dispensers currently used across the airport. A total of 55 dispensers will be installed, including 18 in Terminal 1, nine in Terminal 2, and 28 in Terminal 3. Installation of the Aunt Flow dispensers began in January of this year and is scheduled for completion this July. The CDA encourages all visitors to O’Hare to be mindful of their fellow passengers and to only take what they need.
Support for Mothers and Travelers with Young Children
Mother’s Rooms — a tranquil space for traveling, nursing mothers to breastfeed in a private setting — are available in both airports. For mothers nursing or pumping on the go, Mamava Lactation Pods are also available at O’Hare and Midway. There are eight Mother’s Rooms and 10 Lactation Pods available at O’Hare, along with one of each at Midway.
Vending machines from Oops! Diapers2Go throughout Terminals 1, 2 and 3 at O’Hare also carry diapers, wipes, pacifiers, formula, bottles, snacks, activity kits, toys and other children’s essentials for families on the go.
About the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA)
The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) owns and operates one of the world's busiest airport systems, comprised of O'Hare and Midway International Airports. Chicago's airports offer service to more than 250 nonstop destinations worldwide, including 47 foreign countries, combined. Together, Chicago's airports serve more than 105 million passengers each year and generate approximately $70 billion in annual economic activity for the region. The CDA is self-supporting, using no local or state tax dollars for operations or capital improvements at either airport. For more information, visit www.flychicago.com.