I drove down from Milwaukee to Chicago to attend the 2011 Abilities Expo this past weekend to see what it was all about. In the past I haven’t been in the right place at the right time in order to attend but finally had the chance. I was interested in checking out the new vehicle modifications as well as some of the home modifications, particularly a slide-in tube if there happened to be one there.
Here are my top five observations about the 2011 Abilities Expo:
1. There was a wide variety of information there.
From vehicles to home modifications to non-profit organizations there were many national and regional companies there providing information and demos. It was neat to be exposed to new technologies and old ones as well. I was also asked to participate in a survey about a proposed omni-directional wheelchair that runs on a rolling ball instead of two wheels. Sounded interesting!
2. If you are shopping for accessible vehicles, this is definitely worth checking out.
Aside from your standard side/rear entry mini-van modifications there were several neat vehicles to check out:
- Honda Element
- Modified pickup truck
- Modified three-wheel motorcycle
I wanted to see what the Scion mod looked like and if I fit into it. I liked the mod a lot but unfortunately it was too short and a bit cramped for my wheelchair. Would be great for a manual chair user.
3. There was some great accessible exercise equipment to try out.
From roll-up stationary hand cycles to on-road versions, it was neat to see the equipment in person instead of just on a website somewhere. It was encouraging to see all the different types of equipment being developed.
4. If you are in the market for a new chair, this is the place to go.
Often times wheelchair providers don’t have demos of every chair they offer. But companies like Quickie and Permobil had a ton of chairs on display. People were trying out all sorts of chairs and cushions without pressure to pick a particular one.
5. It’s great to see what’s possible.
From accessible scuba to rock-climbing and wheelchair sports, the event had demos showing you what’s possible to do with a wheelchair. The overall attitude was very positive and it was great to see all this involvement.
The expo was definitely a worthwhile event to attend. I encourage you to go if you live within driving distance of it especially if you are in the market for new products. I also encourage attendance for those who might need a little bit of a nudge towards greater independence or activity. It would definitely leave a great impression to see the exhibits, not to mention the other attendees, doing what they do.