A few of years ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Abilities Expo in the Chicagoland area (Shaumberg, Illinois). This event brought together a wide variety of organizations and vendors with one common goal: Each serves individuals with some form of physical challenge or developmental disability who need accommodation to reach our full potential and enjoyment in life. Parents and caretakers of those with special needs will also find to interest them at the Abilities Expo. Admission to the Abilities Expo was free.
Many of the booths represented vendors. Some of the types of products and services represented included: daily living aids; assistive technology; accommodations for the accessibility in the home; home medical equipment; education related; publications; durable medical equipment; personal care; rehabilitative care services; wheelchairs, scooters, and related accessories; walkers and accessories; sports equipment; legal services; and accessible travel. Many nonprofit organizations were represented as well, including organizations that provide services and medical equipment, advocacy, and adaptive sports activities to those with disability.
There were also a variety of free workshops available to attendees. For example, I attended a workshop called “Travel Made Easy: Tips for People with Disabilities” presented by Jani Nayar of the Society for Accessible Travel (SATH). Available workshops included workshops on selecting the proper vehicle, preparing for emergencies, making accommodations to one’s home, recreation and exercise, treatment, and financial planning.
During the Abilities Expo, there were also many events, activities, and demonstrations. Some of these included: demonstrations with assistance dogs and other assistance animals; various sports such as billiards, wheelchair sports, and table tennis; exercise, dance and fitness activities; and entertainment such as music, crafts, comedy, and book signings. These interesting and informative demonstrations were designed to be family friendly and to interest children as well as adults.
The show floor covered a large area, and represented some degree of challenge for those of us who walk but fatigue quickly. There were, however, motorized scooters available to borrow at no cost. I did sometimes find it difficult to carry on a conversation due to the noise level. At the event I attended, all of the vendor and organization booths, demonstrations, events, activities, and workshops were conducted in one large convention hall. Those with hearing difficulties may find conversation or following workshop presenters to be particularly challenging.
Questions related to disability can now be asked through the “Ask the Ambassador” program. A free monthly newsletter is also available by email: Those interested can sign up on the Abilities Expo website.
Recent additions to the Abilities Expo include an adaptive climbing wall, wheelchair dancing demonstrations and workshops, art activities and face painting for young attendees, and a wider variety of adaptive sports demonstrations.
In January of 2013, the Abilities365.com website was launched, providing up to date on products, services and information for individuals with disability through articles, tutorials, videos and webinars. This site does not appear to have had new content or activity for about the past year, however.
The Abilities Expo organization holds events across the U.S.A. at various times across the year. During 2016, the Abilities Expo will be in the following locations on the listed dates: Los Angeles from February 5-7; New York Metropolitan Area from April 29-May 1, 2015; Chicago starting June 24-26; Houston August 5-7; Boston September 16-18; San Jose Bay Area November 18-20 and the Washington, D.C. metropolitan Area on December 2-4.
Admission to the Abilities Expo remains free. At the Expo, I had the opportunity to learn about the many products, services, and non-profit organizations that serve those with physical challenges, including those with neuromuscular disease. I highly recommend attending one of these entertaining and informational expositions if one comes to your area.
Abilities365.com website, (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.abilities365.com/learningcenter on 1/4/2016.
Abilities Expo website (2015). Retrieved from http://www.abilities.com/ on 1/4/16.
Disclosure Statement: Admission to the Abilities Expo is free. I attended for free as a member of the public.